Indian mobile network operator Idea Cellular has launched commercial GSM-based services in the Assam circle, Business Standard reports. It is understood that the cellco has set aside approximately INR2 billion (USD43.1 million) for its rollout in the region in this fiscal year, ending March 2010, while it expects to spend a further INR3 billion in its first three years of operation in Assam. At launch Idea will offer coverage in 13 districts of Assam – Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Cachar, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karbi Anglong, Kokrajhar, Nagaon, Sibsagar, Sonitpur and Tinsukia – but it expects to double the number of cell sites in operation to 500 by March 2010, increasing its coverage area to 19 districts, including 56 major towns and more than 1,400 villages.
The launch extends Idea’s nationwide presence to 21 of India’s 22 circles, and Idea is expected to complete its pan-India rollout before the end of the year; the cellco plans to launch services in six states in North East by end-2009; Nagland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh. Idea aims to have installed 450 base stations across its final circle by March 2010.