Vodafone has confirmed previous speculation reported by Mobile Business Briefing that it is to extend its strategy in India by teaming up with other local operators to create a joint venture to operate its networks. The operator’s Indian division, Vodafone Essar, is partnering with Bharti and Idea Cellular to form an independent company – Indus Towers – to share 70,000 tower units in the country, helping all three operators save costs and capital. The move follows an earlier infrastructure sharing MoU signed between Bharti and Vodafone in February 2007.
Vodafone said in a statement the new company will provide passive infrastructure services such as mobile towers, power supplies and other network support operations to all operators on a non-discriminatory basis. The companies will merge existing assets, leaving Vodafone Essar and Bharti each owning 42 percent of the new company and Idea owning the remaining 16 percent. The venture will supply infrastructure in 16 existing networks across India, and is believed to be the world’s largest ‘independent’ tower company. Vodafone Essar also announced today a five-year outsourcing deal with IBM India. IBM will manage Vodafone Essar’s data centre operations, desktop, laptop and IT helpdesk management. The operator said that outsourcing will help it keep pace with the rapid growth it expects in the region, while also delivering cost efficiencies.