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Vodafone India plans to invest 4,000-6,000 crore annually

New Delhi (PTI): Vodafone India, the nation’s second-biggest telecom firm, will continue to invest a minimum of Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 6,000 crore every year to expand operations in the world’s second-biggest mobile phone market, its chief executive has said.

The company, which has invested Rs 55,000 crore since coming to India in 2007, plans to invest in networks after it gets new spectrum and its licences are extended.

“We see every year investment level of around anything between Rs 4,000 and 6,000 crore that we have done in last (few) years. On top of that Rs 11,500 crore is what we paid for 3G spectrum. You can expect that (this) level at least will be sustained,” Vodafone India’s MD and CEO Marten Pieters said.

He said that the company has invested total of about Rs 55,000 crore in its telecom networks in period of last six years and paid government an equivalent amount in terms of licence fee, taxes and for buying spectrum.

UK-based Vodafone has around 154 million subscribers in India, and broadly 18 per cent of the Indian mobile market as per August data. It is country’s second-biggest telecom company in terms of user base. Pieters, however, said that the investments will depend on spectrum and licence extension, where a lot of clarity needs to come.

“But again I need spectrum for that (investments) because even if I want to I don’t know where to invest,” he said.

Vodafone India’s licences are due to expire in three metros — Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. The spectrum held by Vodafone in three metros, Bharti Airtel in two metros and Loop Mobile in Mumbai would be put for auction, which is expected to start in January, 2014.

The company will have to bid for spectrum in the auction, initially being conducted for three metros, to continue its business in these service areas.

Asked about Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal’s recent statement about Vodafone Group Plc having told him about plans to invest more than $2 billion in the country, he said that spending referred to the UK parent’s plan to raise stake in the Indian unit to 100 per cent.

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