With an eye on high-value customers from corporate and SME segments leading telecom service provider, Reliance Communications on Monday announced it has added five more telecom circles in 3G taking the total number of circles to 18 across the country.
The company will now be offering 3G services in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and UP-East telecom circles as well.
The development comes on the back of a recent order of the telecom tribunal, TDSAT, allowing inter-circle 3G roaming in the country.
In 2010, the company had bagged 3G spectrum in 13 circles, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Modish, Assam, north-east, Jammu & Kashmir.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) had issued a notice to operators which had started offering 3G service in circles where they had not won the spectrum in 2011. The operators moved the TDSAT who thereafter gave a split verdict in July 2012.
DoT again issued notices to these firms imposing a penalty of Rs 1,200 crore. The operators including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone approached the high court which ruled in the favour of DoT after which the companies appealed to the Supreme Court. In September 2013, the Supreme Court allowed the operators to move their case to TDSAT.
Finally in April 2014, the TDSAT ruled in favour of the operators and quashed all penalties.
A senior Reliance Communications executive told dna: "While in roaming agreements a user could use another operator's spectrum in that area, our arrangement will allow users to buy our services in the respective circles as well." He, however, did not name the companies it had an arrangement with.
The company had also signed roaming agreements in April with Tata Teleservices and Aircel which allowed it to offer 3G services to GSM customers across the country.
With the latest move, Reliance Communications will now offer 3G services in entire southern part of the country and UP-East as well from June 20.
The company's presence in 18 circles will cover 80% of the country's 3G data revenue market and the incremental smartphone sales.
"Together, these Circles account for 80% of incremental Smartphone sales in the country," Gurdeep Singh, CEO at Reliance Communications said.
The company recently introduced One India, One Rate Plan under which it offers free roaming across the country under specific rates.
Reliance Communications has 37.4 million data customers, including 12.9 million 3G customers as of March 2014. It currently has a net worth in excess of Rs 89,600 crore, cash flows of Rs 9,100 crore and a net profit of Rs.4,300 crore. It has a customer base of 120 million.