Home » Money

11 years on, it's 4G 'Diwali Hungama' from Mukesh Ambani

Monday, 24 March 2014 - 10:05am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Reliance Jio to launch 4G services in 100 towns by September-October and 700 towns in two years; 78,000 towers to be deployed in all

He revolutionised the telecom scene in 2003 by offering mobile phones for down payment of as little as Rs 500 under the 'Monsoon Hungama' scheme.

Around 11 years later, Mukesh Ambani is looking to replicate the magic again with a 'Diwali Hungama' of sorts.

His firm Reliance Jio is launching its long-awaited 4G services in 100 towns across the country in September-October, at a scale and prices that promise to shake up the telecom sector yet again – something that Bharti Airtel, the last year's debutant 4G player, was unable to do.

While RJio had planned a debut in June with a soft launch in Delhi and Mumbai, sources close to the company requesting anonymity said elections had delayed key decisions required for the rollout pertaining to right of way to lay fibre, etc.

Still, last month RJio started trial 4G-like services via wi-fi hotspots in Ahmedabad, offering hi-speed broadband speeds of up to 40 Mbps, as compared with 22 Mbps for existing 3G broadband.

Last year, RJio had announced that Pune would be the hub of its 4G operations, leading several sections of the industry to believe that RJio's 4G rollout would begin from Pune or Ahmedabad.

When contacted, a RJio spokesperson refused to comment.

RJio, which last week inked a tower sharing deal with SREI and Viom Networks, is expected to use a total of 78,000 towers for its September launch in 100 towns, starting with the top 20 cities in India.

The tower break-up includes 15,000 towers from Viom, 40,000-45,000 towers from Reliance Infratel, and about 10,000 towers from Bharti Infratel. Apart from this, RJio will use its own 10,000-13,000.

While 4-5,000 towers are expected to be used for the initial 100 towns launch, the rest will be used for the company's planned expansion to 700 towns over a two-year period.

Analysts had expected RJio to use at least 1 lakh towers, which is the minimum requirement for a pan-India 4G network that the company was planning.

However, sources said RJio will use multi-dropping in-building solutions in major cities, to make up for the paucity of towers. More towers will be rented as 4G demand grows.

While tower valuations have not been disclosed, it is likely that RJio has secured all three tower deals at a sizeable discount to prevailing market rates.

How R Jio plans to go about 4G rollout

RJio, which secured 1800 MHz spectrum in 14 circles across India, in the recently-concluded 2G auctions, said it would use a combination of 1800 MHz and its existing BWA 2300 MHz pan-India spectrum for 4G rollout.

This is expected to be divided between 1800 MHz for voice services and 2300 MHz for data services. The company is also working on voice over LTE services (VoLTE), for which it has received government approval for launch , but this is expected to be launched after 4G services pick up.

However, experts believe RJio will, to begin with, launch 2G voice services along with bundled 4G data services – similar to RCom's bundled iPhone 5s offer. However, while voice tariffs are expected to be at par with the industry, data services are where the price war is likely.

Sources said RJio is likely to launch fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services along with 4G data services, which will be a direct competitor to regular broadband players – being much faster and possibly cheaper.

While Samsung will be the key partner for handsets and hardware, RJio has partnered with Cisco for FTTH, Alcatel Lucent for wireline services, Ciena Networks for fibre-based dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) solutions, Ericsson for optical fibre systems (OFS), and IBM for system integration, according to industry sources.

While Cisco confirmed it was working closely with RJio for the latter's 4G layout, mails to other players went unanswered.

In December, dna reported Samsung's exclusive BTS deal with RJio for 4G rollout.

ZTE and Huawei which were till recently speculated to be in the running with Samsung for securing large handset and BTS deals with RJio, are now said to lagging, if not out of the race.


Jump to comments