IDEA Cellular Ltd is a leading GSM mobile services operator in India with over 72 million subscribers, under brand IDEA. The company is a pan India integrated GSM operator covering the entire telephony landscape of the country, and has NLD and ILD operations. They offer affordable and world-class mobile services to varied segments of mobile users.
The company is an Aditya Birla Group Company. They offers basic voice and short message service (SMS) services to high-end value added and general packet radio service (GPRS) services, such as Blackberry, Datacard, Mobile TV and Games. Their subsidiaries include Swinder Singh Satara and Co Ltd, Aditya Birla Telecom Ltd, Idea Cellular Services Ltd, Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services Ltd, Idea Cellular Towers Infrastructure Ltd and Carlos Towers Ltd.
IDEA Cellular Ltd was incorporated in the year 1995 with the name Birla Communications Ltd. The company obtained licenses for providing GSM-based services in the Gujarat and Maharashtra Circles following the original GSM license bidding process. In the year 1996, the company changed the name from Birla Communication Ltd to Birla AT&T Communications Ltd following joint venture between Grasim Industries and AT&T Corporation. In the year 1997, they commenced operations in the Gujarat and Maharashtra Circles.
In the year 2000, the company merged with Tata Cellular Ltd, thereby acquired original license for the Andhra Pradesh Circle. In the year 2001, they acquired the RPG Cellular Ltd and consequently, they acquired the license for the Madhya Pradesh (including Chattisgarh) Circle. Also, they obtained the license for providing GSM-based services in the Delhi Circle following the fourth operator GSM license bidding process. The name of the company was changed from Birla Communications Ltd to Birla Tata AT&T Ltd.
In the year 2002, the name of the company was further changed to Idea Cellular Ltd and also, they launched the 'Idea' brand name. They commenced commercial operation in Delhi circle. In June 3, 2002, they acquired Swinder Singh Satara & Company Ltd through a share purchase agreement. In the year 2004, the company acquired Escotel Mobile Communications Ltd (subsequently renamed as Idea Mobile Communications Limited). They commercially launched EDGE services 2005 and became the first operator in India to do so.
In the year 2005, the company won an Award for the 'Bill Flash' service at GSM Association Awards in Barcelona, Spain. They sponsored the International Indian Film Academy Awards. In the year 2006, the company became a part of the Aditya Birla Group subsequent to the TATA Group transferring their entire shareholding in the company to the Aditya Birla Group. They received Letter of Intent from the DoT for a new UAS License for the Mumbai Circle. Also, they received Letter of Intent from the DoT for a new UAS License for the Bihar Circle through Aditya Birla Telecom Ltd.
During the year 2006-07, the company commenced National Long Distance service to carry part of the Company's own traffic. They launched commercial mobile services in the service areas of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East) and Himachal Pradesh. They made Initial Public Offering and raised Rs 25,000 million. They won an award for the 'CARE' service in the 'Best Billing or Customer Care Solution' at the GSM Association Awards in Barcelona, Spain.
During the year, the company entered into a ten years business transformation pact to integrate, innovate, and transform its business processes and IT infrastructure with International Business Machines (IBM). They signed USD 500 million contract with Nokia Siemens Networks to expand and strengthen the Company's network. Also, they singed a USD 343 million contract for GSM expansion with Ericsson in the Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh service areas.
In June 2006, Escorts Telecommunications Ltd became the subsidiary of the company and subsequently was renamed as Idea Telecommunications Ltd. In February 2007, they acquired 10,000,000 equity shares of Rs.10 each of Aditya Birla Telecom Ltd, a company holding License to operate in the telecom service area of Bihar, for a purchase consideration of Rs 100 million.
During the year 2007-08, the company expanded their network from 4432 cities and towns to 13308 cities and towns. They formed three new subsidiaries namely, Idea Cellular Services Ltd, Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services Ltd and Idea Cellular Tower Infrastructure Ltd. The main purpose of Idea Cellular Services Ltd is to provide manpower services to Idea Cellular and Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services Ltd & Idea Cellular Tower Infrastructure Ltd are meant for hiving off Idea's passive infrastructure network.
In December 2007, the company in association with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar formed a joint venture, namely Indus Tower to provide passive infrastructure services in India to all operators on a non discretionary basis. In February 2008, the company received the Unified Access Services Licences for the telecom service areas of Punjab, Karnataka, Tamilnadu including Chennai, North East, West Bengal, Kolkatta, Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa and Assam.
During the year 2008-09, the company acquired 40.8% stake in Spice Communications Ltd (Spice), having operations in Punjab and Karnataka service areas, from MCorp Global Communications Pvt Ltd, the erstwhile promoters of Spice. They launched services in Mumbai, Orissa, Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Jammu & Kashmir, Kolkata and West Bengal. In addition, Aditya Birla Telecom Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary, launched operations in Bihar (including Jharkhand) service area.
During the year, the company made a tie-up with Indian Oil Corporation, the largest petroleum company in India, to use their petrol pumps and gas agencies for branding and distribution of Idea SIM Cards and Recharge Vouchers. They were the first operator in India to launch Nokia Life Tools in association with Nokia. They launched 'International Airtime Transfer', a unique VAS service, whereby NRI community can directly recharge the prepaid mobiles of Idea subscribers in India through several international merchants and the web in Gulf, the USA and UK.
During the year, the company launched NetSetter Data Cards and Blackberry solutions to cater to their data-savy consumer segments. As per the scheme of arrangement, the company de-merged their passive infrastructure assets in the service areas of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (both East & West including Uttarakhand), Haryana, Kerala, Rajasthan and Mumbai to Idea Cellular Towers Infrastructure Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary, with an appointed date of January 1, 2009.
During the year 2009-10, the company expanded their pan-India presence through service launches in Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Kolkata, West Bengal, Assam and North East service areas, thereby making it a nationwide service provider. As one of Idea's new VAS activities, the company launched 'Buddy Recharge' - a unique peer-to-peer talk time transfer product. They also launched Oongli Cricket during the IPL season.
During the year, the company launched a standardized self care portal 'CARE' which gives information to the customer on products / tariffs and information of their account such as billed amount, last recharge, last calls, unbilled amount, etc. They were the first operator to launch 'Pre Tones', which is an innovative VAS service which allows the user to listen to the caller tones of his / her own choice while making an outgoing call instead of listening to the respondent's caller tone.
As per the scheme of arrangement, the company telecom operations of the Bihar service area along with certain assets and liabilities of Aditya Birla Telecom Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary was de-merged and transferred to the company with effect from March 1, 2010. Spice Communications Ltd which had operations in the Punjab and Karnataka service areas, and licenses for National and International Long Distance operations was amalgamated with the company with effect from March 1, 2010. Also, Carlos Towers Ltd became a subsidiary company pursuant to the amalgamation of Spice Communications Ltd with the company.
In April 2010, the company received a License for providing pan India Internet Services (ISP License). In the 3G Spectrum auction, the company emerged as a winner in 11 Service Areas viz. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (E), Uttar Pradesh (W), Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, at a total cost of Rs 5,768.59 crore.
During the year under review, the company became a pan India operator following the roll out of services in the remaining service areas of Orissa, Tamilnadu (including Chennai), Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Kolkata, North East and Assam.
In January 20, 2011, the Company launched mobile number portability (MNP), an invite to all Indian mobile customers to change their wireless operator, while retaining their mobile number. In March, 2011 Company launched 3G services in 9 out of these 11 service areas. The Company also entered into bilateral roaming arrangement for the service areas of Mumbai, Bihar, Karnataka, Delhi, Kolkata and Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), with leading quality operators, enabling it to offer 3G services in 15 service areas.
The company is in the process of launching 3G services in Jammu and Kashmir service area. The 3G spectrum for Punjab service area has not been earmarked by DoT to the Company for commercial usage as yet, and hence Company has not been able to launch 3G service there until now. The company is now installing 3G cell sites to capture the future wireless broadband data market.