Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL), the telecom arm of Reliance Industries, has inked yet another tower sharing deal, this time with American Tower Corporation (ATC), for using its 11,000 towers in India, ahead of its pan-India 4G rollout, expected by September. ATC has a global portfolio of 67,000 towers across 13 countries.
In addition to the latest one, the tower sharing deal signed by RJIL includes a deal with Reliance Infratel for 45,000 towers, Bharti Infratel for 82,000 towers and Viom Networks for 42,000 towers. As a result, RJIL's total available 4G tower footprint has increased to 1,69,000 towers. However, RJIL is expected to use 78,000 towers for its initial 4G launch in 100 towns by September, according to industry officials requesting anonymity.
The announcement comes just two days after RIL's fourth quarter earnings in which it announced a Rs 33,000 crore investment towards its 4G business.
While financial details of the deal were not disclosed, it is expected to be similar to the deals signed with Bharti Infratel and Viom Networks. Also, according to an industry official requesting anonymity, ATC's towers will be used by RJIL in pockets where other tower companies whom RJIL has earlier signed deals with, are not present.
A deal with Indus Towers is also on the cards. In addition, the next infrastructure deal is likely to be signed with Vodafone within the next two months, as per another source who did not wish to be named.
At the time of winning 2G spectrum in the recent auctions in February, Vodafone's management mentioned that it would consider 4G services in the future.
However, spokespersons for RJIL and Vodafone declined comment on this, citing speculation.
Speaking about the deal with ATC, Sanjay Mashruwala, managing director, Reliance Jio said, "We are committed to creating a cutting edge network for high speed 4G. Our relationship with ATC will accelerate the rollout of these services across India.”
ATC’s Chief Operating Officer, B. Ramanand added, “We believe this will strengthen our foothold as the leading independent tower company in India. There is considerable pent up demand for data and 4G has tremendous growth potential.”
Reliance Jio has also signed fibre and infrastructure sharing deals with Reliance Communications and Bharti Infratel. Additionally, the company has a pan-India unified BWA license for 2300 MHz spectrum in 22 circles as well as 1800 MHz spectrum in 14 key circles in India – both of which it intends using for its imminent 4G rollout.