For Punjab, the achche din (good days) are here. Well almost. After a long drawn wait, the Northern state of India is all set to receive 3G thanks to Idea Cellular, which is the third biggest cellular operator in the state. Not only does this move enable the users with an Idea connection to latch onto faster network, but also thanks to ICR (Intra Circular Roaming) agreement, both Vodafone and Airtel customers will be able to enjoy the 3G connectivity.
A tribunal ruling had recently allowed ICR which means even if a telecom operator does not own spectrum in a particular region, it would be able to latch on to the air waves of a competitor who has signed the ICR with it and is providing the service. Given neither Vodafone nor Airtel own spectrum in Punjab, the state so far was only able to offer 2G while some parts of Chandigarh had 4G thanks to Airtel.
The 3G rollout currently has been done in Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Jagraon, Malerkotla and Nabha though Idea plans to expand it to another 170 cities with more than 1800 3G sites. Subsequently, both Airtel and Vodafone have been able to offer 3G to their customers with various plans. For Airtel, which is the largest telecom player in Punjab, the base 3G pack starts at Rs 23, while the same on Idea costs Rs 19 for an 80 MB data valid for 2 days. Vodafone too has similar schemes.
Idea Cellular Chief Operating Officer, Corporate, P Lakshminarayana in a statement said:
Our recent spectrum win in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz band has now given us the ability to further expand our 3G network, and launch 4G services in key revenue markets including Punjab, at an appropriate juncture.
Overall, this is a big win for customers in Punjab, especially for those on Airtel, as this move sees Punjab become one of the few states where you could avail 2G, 3G and 4G services.