3G still relevant as 4G market only in metros now: Vodafone India

"The low proliferation of smartphones and LTE handsets makes us believe there is still huge headroom for 3G even as the market gets ready for 4G," the company CEO Sunil Sood said.

Vodafone India CEO Sunil Sood Vodafone India CEO Sunil Sood

As the leading telecom majors compete to capture the 4G market share, Vodafone India on Wednesday said that it will focus only on the metropolitan cities for the technology as 2G and 3G will remain more relevant in rest of the country.
The company CEO Sunil Sood said that he is looking at tapping the 4G market beginning with the metros as 2G, 3G will still be relevant in other parts of the country.
"We believe 4G to succeed mainly in the metros where customers are highly evolved, much travelled and exposed to the trends in global markets. The probability of users upgrading is higher in the metros as they have been already using data. That's why we are launching it selectively and not nationally," Sood told Business Today online.
"That is the primary reason we are looking at starting our 4G services in the top four - five cities, which account for just under 50 per cent of our data market," he said. Vodafone India has announced to roll out 4G services in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata before March 2016.
"The relatively low proliferation of smartphones and LTE handsets in India and the nascent ecosystem makes us believe there is still huge headroom for 3G even as the market gets ready for 4G," he said.
Not ruling out the existence of the 4G market in India, Sood at the same time emphasised on multiple technologies working in the other towns and cities apart from metros.
"We firmly believe, multiple technologies will work in India as India is a vast country so there will be need for 2G, 3G and there is a market for 4G," he said.
Sood said that the 4G ecosystem in India is still in its early days. "Only three per cent of our consumers today have 4G phones. After so many years of 3G, only 28 per cent of our consumers have a 3G-enabled device and 42 per cent of phones sold in India are feature ones, priced below Rs 2,000," Sood told BT online.
Vodafone recently launched the high speed 4G network on the 1800 MHz band in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram and now covers around 10 towns in Kerala.  
Vodafone that has been operating in India for 8 years now claims to have close to 190 million customers in India currently of which 100 million are in rural areas.
Sood said that the company is building high capacity fibre/backhaul to significantly increase the internet connectivity. "We have added more than 4000 km in H1 FY16 taking fiber footprint to 154,000 km. We are modernising our existing 2G/3G network making it more technology and energy efficient with capabilities of moving to 4G," he said.
Vodafone India is also preparing to launch an IPO. However Sood refused to put any timeline for the same.
" The IPO will depend on various factors like state of financial markets, and we're yet to take a final call on it. While we are positively inclined towards it but we cannot give a timeline for it (as yet)," he said.