Up­wardly Mo­bile

In a year when many oth­ers shrank, a dou­bledigit sub­scriber growth re­warded the company with gains in mar­ket share—and rank­ing

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The Aditya Birla Group­pro­moted company not only rose sharply to close the ranks and ended the year with a con­vinc­ing No. 3 rank­ing, both in terms of over­all sub­scribers as well as rev­enues, but was also the big­gest gainer from mo­bile num­ber porta­bil­ity (MNP).

In­dus­try and gov­ern­ment re­ports said that Idea Cel­lu­lar led the MNP gain by a wide mar­gin for the year ended De­cem­ber 2013, fol­lowed by Voda­fone In­dia and Bharti Air­tel.

Idea also led the tally when it came to the per­cent­age of ru­ral sub­scribers, with 54.69 per­cent of its sub­scribers com­ing from ru­ral In­dia (fol­lowed by Voda­fone at 53.67 per­cent and Bharti Air­tel at 44.68 per­cent, though Voda­fone is fast catch­ing up with a height­ened fo­cus on grow­ing its ru­ral sub­scriber base). The company re­ceived the Amity Tele­com Ex­cel­lence Award for The Best Ru­ral Ser­vices Provider of the Year 2013.

Idea Cel­lu­lar’s 3G roll­outs and up­take also en­abled it to emerge as the fifth largest In­ter­net ser­vice provider by sub­scribers. It also was the No. 5 broad­band ser­vice provider by sub­scribers at the close of 2013.

Over­all, Idea recorded an in­dus­try lead­ing sub­scriber growth for the year ended De­cem­ber 2013, adding 14.74 mil­lion sub­scribers dur­ing the year and clock­ing a growth of 12.93 per­cent, as per Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of In­dia (TRAI) num­bers. The No. 3 telco, which had 128.69 mil­lion sub­scribers at the close of 2013, also gar­nered 14.52 per­cent share of the to­tal wire­less sub­scribers for the pe­riod.

Idea con­tin­ued to carry out its mar­ket­ing mes­sages ef­fec­tively, with its “No Idea, Get Idea” cam­paign turn­ing out to be of an ever­green genre. More­over, its re­peat spon­sor­ship and as­so­ci­a­tion with a highly suc­cess­ful KBC TV show, con­tin­ued to strengthen the brand across var­i­ous tele­com ser­vice ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly in the cen­tral and western parts of In­dia.

Idea was awarded the CNBC Sto- ry­board Brand Cam­paign of the Year Award for the Honey Bunny cam­paign, which was launched along with KBC’s 2013 sea­son. Around 52 per­cent of Idea’s sub­scribers came from its top five cir­cles of Ma­ha­rash­tra, Mad­hya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, UP (W) and Gu­jarat, while the next five cir­cles of Ker­ala, UP(E), Kar­nataka, Bi­har and Pun­jab gave it another 27 per­cent of its sub­scribers. Put to­gether, the top 10 cir­cles ac­counted for 79 per­cent of Idea’s share in 2013.

In terms of the sub­scriber share, it also en­joyed rel­a­tively high shares in the cir­cles of Mad­hya Pradesh, Ma­ha­rash­tra, Ker­ala, UP(W) and Haryana. The high shares in th­ese cir­cles may sig­nif­i­cantly be at­trib­uted to its rel­a­tively strong 3G pres­ence in th­ese cir­cles.

Idea has its 3G spec­trum for 12 cir­cles and also has an in­ter-cir­cle 3G roam­ing pact with Bharti Air­tel and Voda­fone for most of the other cir­cles, only ex­cep­tion be­ing Orissa where none of the three op­er­a­tors were able to se­cure a 3G li­cense.

While Idea has made im­pres­sive gains in the mo­bile ser­vices seg­ment, the ar­eas where it is yet to demon­strate strate­gic fo­cus are wire­line ser­vices and data cen­ters, both of which are im­por­tant to have a strong en­ter­prise ser­vice play.

—Hi­man­shu Ka­pa­nia MD, Idea Cel­lu­lar

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