Vodafone Idea touted a boost for its retail footprint in rural areas after opening 1,100 shops in 18 states in India over the past three months.

In a release, Vodafone Idea explained the retail expansion is part of its strategy to better engage with a growing rural population by presenting a united customer proposition and positioning support services closer to subscribers.

COO Abhijit Kishore stated research showed a large segment of customers prefer face-to-face service.

“To enable the rural population to be part of the digital revolution, we have taken a renewed approach to our rural retail strategy”, which will help Vodafone Idea to “get closer to our customers, providing them convenience and simplicity” when accessing its services and staff.

While Vodafone Idea acquired 5G spectrum in an auction in August 2022, it is yet to introduce service.

Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel introduced 5G services in October 2022 and now have coverage in parts of more than 100 and 50 cities respectively.

Data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India showed Vodafone Idea ended October 2022 with 245.6 million mobile subscribers, down from 269 million a year earlier.