Reliance Infocomm will launch its 4G broadband services by December this year. 4G devices under its own brand name Jio will be available for Rs 4,000 at the entry level.
The development will be a big breather for rival Bharti Airtel, which has kicked off 4G expansion across its LTE telecom circles including Haryana.
The Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio could not meet the five year deadline set by the Department of Telecommunications because of the lack of a strong device eco-system. Reliance Jio Infocomm, which will be launching 4G across the country, will be prompted to pay fee to the India government for not meeting the basic roll out guidelines.
An industry report from PWC in December 2014 suggested that India will have 10-15 million LTE subscribers by the end of 2015. With the news on substantial delay, the leading telecom network vendors such as Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia Networks, Huawei, ZTE, etc. will be hit hard.
ALSO READ: Ericsson India’s Chris Houghton: Telecoms need to invest in new networks
Earlier, equity analysts said Reliance Industries will be spending around $17 billion to roll out 4G services.
“We are currently in the pre-launch testing and stabilization phase of this large and complex network. Over the next few months, we will initiate an extensive beta launch involving millions of friendly customers across all our markets,” Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani told shareholders.
“This beta programme will be upgraded into commercial operations around December of this year,” he said, adding that the company now has end-to-end initial capacity to serve over 100 million broadband and 20 million fibre-to-home customers for the Jio platform.
On devices, the chairman told the company’s 41st annual general meeting that the focus has been on affordable, yet innovative smartphones, on which is dependent the penetration of this future technology.
“Jio and Reliance Digital teams have worked with all leading device manufacturers of the world to ensure availability of VoLTE (Voice-over-long-term) 4G smartphones across all price points — from ultra-premium models on one hand, to entry level models on the other,” Ambani said.
“The combination of Jio’s strong initiatives and a supportive global environment, gives me the confidence that we will see VoLTE phones in India at prices below Rs. 4,000 by December of this year.”
In fact, most of foreign telecom analysts were cagey about the growth prospects of Reliance Jio Infocomm in India. No top foreign firm indicated any 4G subscribers for Reliance Jio Infocomm.
As per the current indications, the Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti Airtel will continue to lead the Indian 4G market, well ahead of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio.