Idea Cellular Limited
FormerlyBirla Communications Limited (1995-1996)
Birla AT&T Communications Limited (1996-2001)
Birla Tata AT&T Communications Limited (2001-2002)
Company typePublic
Founded1995; 29 years ago (1995)
FounderAditya Birla Group
DefunctAugust 31, 2018 (2018-08-31) (as company) September 7, 2020 (2020-09-07) (as brand)
FateMerged with Vodafone India into Vodafone Idea
SuccessorVodafone Idea[1]
HeadquartersGandhinagar, Gujarat, India[2]
Area served
Key people
ProductsMobile telephony, wireless broadband
RevenueIncrease 36,162.54 crore (US$4.3 billion) (2016)[3]
Increase 12,180.67 crore (US$1.5 billion) (2016)[3]
Increase 2,728.13 crore (US$330 million) (2016)[3]
Total assetsIncrease 98,577.16 crore (US$12 billion) (2016)
Total equityIncrease 27,262.46 crore (US$3.3 billion) (2016)
Members220.00 million (June 2018)
ParentAditya Birla Group

Idea Cellular was an Indian telecommunications company based at Mumbai, Maharashtra.[4] It was an integrated GSM operator and had 220.00 million subscribers as of June 2018.[5]

In 2018 Idea Cellular merged with Vodafone India into Vodafone Idea.[6]


Idea Cellular was incorporated as Birla Communications in 1995 after GSM licenses were won in Gujarat and Maharashtra circles. The company name was changed to Idea Cellular and the brand Idea was introduced in 2002 after a series of name changes following mergers and joint ventures with Grasim Industries, AT&T Corporation and Tata Group.[7] Following the exit of AT&T Corporation and Tata Group from the joint venture in 2004 and 2006 respectively, Idea Cellular became a subsidiary of Aditya Birla Group.[8] Malaysia based Axiata had bought around 20% stake in the company in 2008 for US$2 billion.[9]

Idea previously bought a 40.8% stake in Spice Telecom, for over 2,700 crore.[10]

Merger with Vodafone India

Manhole cover for Idea in Delhi

The entry of Jio in 2016 had led to various mergers and consolidations in the Indian telecom sector.[11] It was announced in March 2017 that even Idea Cellular and Vodafone India would be merged. The merger got approval from Department of Telecommunications in July 2018. On August 30, 2018, National Company Law Tribunal gave the final nod to the Vodafone-Idea merger [1] The merger was completed on 31 August 2018, and the newly merged entity was named Vodafone Idea.[12][13][14][15] The merger created the largest telecom company in India by subscribers and by revenue. Under the terms of the deal, the Vodafone Group holds a 45.2% stake in the combined entity, the Aditya Birla Group holds 26% and the remaining shares will be held by the public.[15]

On 7 September 2020, Vodafone Idea unveiled this new brand identity, Vi, which involved the integration of the company's erstwhile separate brands Vodafone India and Idea Cellular into one unified brand.


In the 2010 3G spectrum auction, Idea paid 57.68 billion (US$690 million) for spectrum in 11 circles.[16] After the launch of MNP in India, Idea further strengthened its customer base because it was the mobile network with most net port-ins.[17]

Radio frequency summary

Idea Cellular owned spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands across the country.[18]

Telecom circle coverage E-GSM
Band 8
Band 3
Band 1
Band 40
Band 41
Delhi Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Mumbai Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Kolkata Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Andhra Pradesh & Telangana Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Gujarat Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Karnataka Yes Yes Yes No No
Maharashtra & Goa Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tamil Nadu Yes Yes Yes No No
Haryana Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Kerala Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Madhya Pradesh
Punjab Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Rajasthan Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Uttar Pradesh (East) Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Uttar Pradesh (West) Yes Yes Yes No Yes
West Bengal Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Assam No Yes Yes No Yes
Bihar & Jharkhand No Yes Yes No Yes
Himachal Pradesh No Yes Yes No Yes
Jammu and Kashmir No Yes Yes No Yes
North East No Yes Yes No Yes
Odisha Yes Yes Yes No Yes

Note: The above table contains Vodafone Idea radio frequency details because they used to share their networks with each other via ICR (intra-circle roaming agreement) in some circles. For example, Idea had started giving its customers in Delhi access to 4G services in May 2018 via the Vodafone network.[19][20]

See also


  1. ^ a b Parbat, Kalyan; Sengupta, Devina (31 August 2018). "NCLT gives go-ahead to Idea-Vodafone merger". The Economic Times. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Idea Cellular – Cell Phone Services". Retrieved 28 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b c "Consolidated Result 2016-17".
  4. ^ "Idea Cellular – Cell Phone Services |3G, Prepaid, Postpaid & Wireless Internet". Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Press Release No. 23/2018" (PDF). Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. 16 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Idea-Vodafone say merger complete, now India's largest telco with 408 million active users". Indiatimes. 31 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Idea Cellular – Cell Phone Services |3G, Prepaid, Postpaid & Wireless Internet". Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Cingular Allows Agreement to Sell Stake in Indian Wireless Service Provider to Expire". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Malaysian Telco Axiata may soon exit Vodafone Idea as stock continues its slide - ET Telecom". Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  10. ^ Kumar, Arun (30 June 2008). "Spice Telecom buy to leave Idea Cellular richer". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  11. ^ Raj, Amrit (21 October 2017). "The shakeup in India's telecom sector". Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Vodafone Idea Limited | Campaign". Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  13. ^ Guha, Romit. "Idea approves merger with Vodafone India, to create India's largest telco". The Economic Times. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  14. ^ Kurup, Rajesh (20 March 2017). "Idea Cellular board approves merger with Vodafone India; shares tank 9%". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Disclosure under Regulation 30 of SEBI (LODR) Regulations, 2015" (PDF). BSE. Retrieved 31 August 2018.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Pahwa, Nikhil (19 May 2010). "India's 3G Auction Ends; Operator And Circle-Wise Results". MediaNama.
  17. ^ Abbas, Muntazir (13 April 2016). "Five years on, Idea, Vodafone, Airtel emerge top gainers in MNP: Kotak". The Economic Times. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  18. ^ Pan India 2016 spectrum holding data sheet (updated), Telecom Talk, retrieved 15 July 2018
  19. ^ Idea Cellular 4G Services Now Live in Delhi Via ICR With Vodafone, Telecom Talk, retrieved 15 July 2018
  20. ^ Idea to launch VoLTE in March, inks 4G ICR agreement with Vodafone, ET Telecom, retrieved 15 July 2018

Further reading