|Headquarters||Santacruz East, Mumbai, India|
|Key people||Kumar Mangalam Birla
|Products||Mobile telephony, Wireless broadband|
|Revenue||15389.00 crore (US$2.6 billion) (2011)|
|Operating income||2879.33 crore (US$480 million) (2011)|
|Net income||844.60 crore (US$140 million) (2011)|
|Total assets||US$5.334 billion (2010)|
|Parent||Aditya Birla Group (49.05%)
Axiata Group Berhad (19.96%)
Providence Equity (10.6%)
Inception and growth
In 2000, Tata Cellular was a company providing mobile services in Andhra Pradesh. When Birla-AT&T brought Maharashtra and Gujarat to the table, the merger of these two entities was a reality. Thus Birla-Tata-AT&T, popularly known as Batata, was born and was later rebranded as IDEA.
Then Idea set sights on RPG’s operations in Madhya Pradesh which was successfully acquired, helping Batata have a million subscribers, and the licence to be the fourth operator in Delhi was clinched.
In 2004, Idea (the company had by then been rechristened) bought over the Escorts group’s Escotel gaining Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (West) and Kerala — and licences for three more — UP (East), Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. By the end of that year, four million Indians were on the company’s network. In 2005, AT&T sold its investment in Idea, and the year after Tatas also bid good bye to pursue an independent telecom business. And Idea was left only with one promoter, the AV Birla group. Rs 2,700 crore adding Punjab and Karnataka circles. Modi’s joint venture partner, Telekom Malaysia, invested Rs 7,000 crore for a 14.99% stake in Idea. Just around then, Idea’s subsidiary, Aditya Birla Telecom sold a 20% stake to US-based Providence Equity Partners for over Rs 2,0000 crore.
Initially the Birlas, the Tatas and AT&T Wireless each held one-third equity in the company. But following AT&T Wireless' merger with Cingular Wireless in 2004, Cingular decided to sell its 32.9% stake in Idea. This stake was bought by both the Tatas and Birlas at 16.45% each.
Tata's foray into the cellular market with its own subsidiary, Tata Indicom, a CDMA-based mobile provider, cropped differences between the Tatas and the Birlas. This dual holding by the Tatas also became a major reason for the delay in Idea being granted a license to operate in Mumbai. This was because as per Department of Telecommunications (DOT) license norms, one promoter could not have more than 10% stake in two companies operating in the same circle and Tata Indicom was already operating in Mumbai when Idea filed for its licence.
The Birlas thus approached the DOT and sought its intervention, and the Tatas replied by saying that they would exit Idea but only for a good price. On 10 April 2006, the Aditya Birla Group announced its acquisition of the 48.18% stake held by the Tatas at Rs. 40.51 a share amounting to Rs. 44.06 billion. While 15% of the 48.14% stake was acquired by Aditya Birla Nuvo, a company in-charge of the Birlas' new business initiatives, the remaining stake was acquired by Birla TMT holdings Private Ltd., an AV Birla family-owned company. Currently, Aditya Birla Group holds 49.1% of the total shares of the company. Malaysia based Axiata controls a 14.99% stake in the company.
On 19 May 2010, the 3G spectrum auction in India ended. Idea paid 5768.59 crores for spectrum in 11 circles. The circles it will provide 3G in are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra & Goa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh (East) and Uttar Pradesh (West).
On 28 March 2011, Idea launched 3G services in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The launch cities were Ahmedabad, Shimla and Indore. This makes Idea the sixth private operator (eighth overall) to launch its 3G services in the country following Tata Docomo, Reliance Communications, Airtel, Aircel and Vodafone.
Idea currently supports up to 21.1 Mbit/s over 2G speeds of 256 kbit/s. However, different handsets support different speeds, from 384 kbit/s, 3.6 Mbit/s, 7.2 Mbit/s or 21.1 Mbit/s. Speeds also depend on the 3G plan/recharge that users opt for.
The operator announced that IDEA 3G services will be available in 200 towns of 11 3G circles by mid-April 2011, progressively growing at the rate of ten towns per day to cover 750 towns by mid-2011 and 4000 towns by the end of 2012.
Idea cellular has announced a cut of 70% in the tariff of its 3G services.
On 23 November 2011 Idea Cellular launched two affordable 3G handsets in India: Idea 3G Smartphone Blade priced at 7,992 and Idea 3G Smartphone priced at 5,850. Both handsets are based on Android 2.2 Froyo.
Idea has also launched a Dual-SIM Android smartphone in India on June 15, 2012 named as Idea ID-918 at a price point of Rs.5,994 ($108 approx.) It features Android v2.3 OS, 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen, 3G, Wi-Fi and 3.2 MP rear facing camera.
On 5 March 2013, Idea launched another 3G smartphone called Idea Zeal 3G which is a Dual SIM phone with 3 Megapixel camera.
Pan-India 3G coverage
Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have begun collaborating to provide 3G coverage to their customers pan India. The agreement aims to provides for these companies to offer 3G services to their customers in circles where they have not won any spectrum. It is expected that the 3 companies will be able to provide 3G services in all circles in India except Orissa where the three have not won any spectrum.
EBU - Enterprise Business unit - 2011
Enterprise Big solution: Won the E governance initiative to Idea Cellular during the year 2011- the first of its kind IVR based LPG gas booking for IOCL & HPCL across 19 circles which is touching lives of about 60 million IOCL/HPCL consumers and generates about 30 million gas refills every month. The product has enabled customers to book their gas cylinder by dialing an IVR number on a 24x7 basis and to receive SMS confirmations for the booking and the dispatch. Mr George Bernard - Head Enterprise solution south circles - Idea Cellular Ltd, who has been instrumental in bagging this business for idea cellular - This POC was started in 2010 in cochin Idea Kerala circle and pan India implementation by end of 2011 .
Idea’s 3G service is currently available in the following cities in 14 telecom circles
Idea’s 3G service recently launched in Mumbai with 3G network sharing agreement with Airtel. [Idea has launched 3G services in Chennai, Delhi & NCR network sharing with Vodafone]
Idea leads all other telecom operators in India in the MNP (Mobile Number Portability) race, with a net gain of 10,31,380 subscribers as on 31 August 2011.
Idea also leads all other competitors in having the most active subscriber base, scoring highly on the VLR statistics. Visitor Location Register (VLR) is basically a temporary database of the subscribers who have roamed into the particular area, which it serves. Each base station in the network is served by exactly one VLR; hence a subscriber cannot be present in more than one VLR at a time.
The company has its retail outlets under the "My Idea" banner. The company has also been the first to offer flexible tariff plans for prepaid customers. It also offers GPRS services in urban areas.
IDEA Cellular has been recognized as the 'Most Customer Responsive Company' in the Telecom sector, at the prestigious Avaya GlobalConnect Customer Responsiveness Awards 2010.
Idea competes with 14 other mobile operators throughout India. They are Aircel, Airtel, BSNL, Loop Mobile, MTNL, MTS, Ping Mobile, Reliance Communications, S Tel, Tata DoCoMo, Tata Indicom, Uninor, Videocon, Virgin Mobile, T24, and Vodafone.
Awards and recognitions
In 2013, Idea has been listed as the second most trusted brand in the category of Mobile Telephony in the The Brand Trust Report 2013 an annual report published by Trust Research Advisory.
Idea Rocks India
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- Deka, Jim Ankan (April 6, 2013). Shankar "Ehsaan and Loy took Bangalore by storm at Idea Rocks India". Demotix.
- "Youth wins Idea Rocks India Talent Hunt". The Indian Express. Express News Service. April 2, 2013.