Vodafone Idea has launched a new brand identity in India as it attempts to mount another challenge in the space that has seen Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel strengthen over the past few quarters. Vodafone Idea, now VI, is renewing its focus after the AGR verdict a few days ago. Vodafone Idea also says that it has completed the network integration—which it says is the world’s largest mobile network integration in record time. Vodafone Idea has seen its user base reduce significantly, dropping to 280 million users at the end of June this year, compared with 408 million users at the time of the merger between Vodafone and Idea two years ago. Since then, the Vodafone and Idea brandings have remained separate, though a few months ago, Vodafone Idea did unify the postpaid plans for Vodafone and Idea users under the Vodafone RED umbrella. But the rebranding may also bring with it price hikes of VI prepaid and VI postpaid users, something that the company has hinted at already.
VI also says they will continue to partner with the government of India to push forward the digital economy mission. Traditionally, Idea has been stronger with a large chunk of its user base in the tier-II and tier-III towns in India, while Vodafone has remained focused on the urban regions, the tier-I towns. However, the tariff wars have seen Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel gain over the past few quarters and Vodafone Idea struggled with declining revenue. VI has now integrated network operations in 19 telecom circles across India, including merging the 4G network.
“In their various avatars, since the mid-90s, Vodafone and Idea steered the growth of the sector for over decades separately. Both Vodafone and Idea have set new benchmarks in network experience, rural connectivity, customer service, enterprise mobility solutions,” says Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla Group, announcing the rebranding.
But there could be tariff hikes along the way for prepaid and postpaid users, as VI looks to increase the average revenue per user (ARPU) figures. At this time, VI’s ARPU is around Rs 114, which is significantly lower compared to Reliance Jio which has around Rs 140 ARPU from its user base while Airtel clocks in with around Rs 157. VI has not announced any new prepaid plans or postpaid plans at this time, though we can expect some new tariff options in the coming days. At this time, Vodafone Idea prepaid plans with 28 days validity start at Rs 49 while the postpaid plans under the Vodafone RED branding are priced Rs 399 onwards. The Vodafone RED X plan, which has been under the TRAI scanner, is priced at Rs 1,099 per month and bundles multiple offers along with the promise of better data speeds on the 4G network.