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