Indian broadband misery continues. Reliance Jio Infocomm 4G services and National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) with small coverage will be launched in 2015.
While Reliance Jio Infocomm’s 4G project will be delayed by 4 plus years after getting its broadband wireless access (BWA) license for nearly Rs 13,000 crore in 2010, NOFL will undergo several changes and face cost overrun substantially. The BJP government is now thinking about its viability and changing objectives.
Without sharing specific reasons for the delay for the much anticipated 4G launch, Mukesh Ambani on Wednesday said: “The year 2015 will see the phased launch of Reliance Jio across India… The fruits of the tremendous value created by this Rs 70,000 crore initiative would start to flow.”
Reliance Jio Infocomm, which will be investing Rs 70,000 crore in its 4G venture, will cover all states, around 5,000 towns and cities, accounting for over 90 percent of urban India and over 215,000 villages. The target is to cover over 600,000 villages. However, Ambani does not talk about the company’s specific timelines for achieving 60,000 villages.
Reliance Jio Infocomm needs to cover 90 percent of BWA license areas in 2015, as per DoT guidelines to BWA licensees including Bharti Airtel and Aircel.
The company, which recently announced its intention to acquire TV 18 media group, will also utilize in 1800 MHz spectrum — FD-LTE technology — that it bought for Rs 11,054.41 crore in February across 14 out of 22 service areas in country.
At present, more than 10,000 full time Reliance Jio employees, nearly 30,000 professionals from its partners and vendors and over 100,000 people are working across the country in creating the digital infrastructure backbone for this network.
Ambani said expanded field trials will commence in August this year across multiple cities. These trials would continue through the end of 2014 and early part of 2015.
Is there any difference between the ex-telecom minister Kapil Sibal and the current minister Ravi Shankar Prasad? Congress tried to assist telecom operators to build broadband for all. BJP is keen to offer broadband highway. But both parties do not specific deadlines and action plans in place. BJP says its team will have accountable job to do.
Telecom Commission, which gave its okay to a revised strategy for NOFN to cover 2.5 lakh gram panchayats with broadband connectivity by March, 2017, is complaining about the viability and objective of the project. DoT officials say the project will be achieved within the current deadlines as well citing global examples.
NOFN will be available in 50,000 panchayats by March 2015, another one lakh by March 2016 and all the 2.5 lakh by March 2017.
Rs 20,000 crore was the earlier project cost. The project officials say there will be cost overrun because of delays and changes in strategies. This is not government money. COAI wants the BJP government to utilize USO Fund. Finally, Indian broadband consumers will continue to suffer.