Vodafone Idea announced it consolidated nearly a quarter of the combined radio networks of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular since their merger in late August 2018.

The operator, the largest in India with a 35 per cent market share by subscribers, announced it integrated the 2G, 3G and 4G RANs in eight service areas (the country has 22 such areas, referred to as circles) along with the metro areas of Bangalore and Kolkata.

It also refarmed 10MHz of 4G spectrum in Mumbai to boost capacity in the city. In other circles, it said the integration is taking place cluster-by-cluster.

Vishant Vora, Vodafone Idea CTO, said in a statement it has ensured customers remain connected and have uninterrupted services “even as we integrate and optimise our network in a phased manner across circles”.

“We partnered the best of global vendors and equipment suppliers to deploy new-age technologies, with in-built customisations and novel innovations to ensure a rich customer experience while building a robust, future ready network.”

Ericsson today announced Vodafone Idea had contracted it to deploy 5G-ready radio access and transport equipment, including microwave backhaul systems, as part of the integration process. In a statement, the vendor said the agreement involves consolidating the operator’s existing 2G and 3G infrastructure to “maximise spectrum on LTE followed by ongoing optimisation of the network in order to enhance end-user experience”.

Fast progress
In its most recent financial statement, released earlier in the month, Vodafone Idea CEO Balesh Sharma said the company was “moving faster than expected on integration, specifically on the network front.”

Its strategy in driving the consolidation of two overlapping networks has been to make the better and dominant network in each circle the anchor and complement that with the required support from the other network.

The operator is also enhancing network capabilities and capacity using new technologies including dynamic spectrum refarming, massive MIMO and small cells.

It said it enhanced the capabilities of more than 4,700 sites through dynamic spectrum refarming, with its 4G reach extended to 750 million people across India.

By end-January, nearly 45,000 co-located and low-utilisation sites had been switched off.