Reliance Communications (RCom) is set to launch 4G services on its own across India in phases, starting mid-August from the key circles of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and will gradually leverage its sharing agreement with Reliance Jio Infocommas clearances come through.
India’s fourth largest telco expects clearances from the telecom department on its sharing deal with Jio in eight circles in a week to 10 days, having already got approval for nine others previously. RCom has also received clearances to trade, or sell, its spectrum in nine circles to Jio for some Rs 4,800 crore, and plans to extend that pact to four more service areas for roughly Rs 1,000 crore, people familiar with the matter told ET.
RCom “is also set to wrap up tests relating to lawful interception & monitoring (LIM) of its 4G network”, completion of which will trigger the 4G launches, one of the persons said. It has also concluded LIM-related tests in 15 circles, and expects to wrap up the exercise in all 22 regions by June 20.
In the first flush, RCom will launch 4G services in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Gujarat, Maharashtra,Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, UP-East and UP-West, these people said. RCom now holds liberalised airwaves in the 800 MHz band across all 22 circles.
It has forked out Rs 6,667 crore to the telecom department (DoT) to liberalise its 800 MHz airwaves in 20 circles. Besides, it already had such airwaves in Northeast and Assam acquired in the March 2015 auction. Liberalising or ‘paying the market price’ for airwaves that were allotted and not auctioned, will allow RCom to use its 800 MHz spectrum to offer 4G services. An email query to RCom did not elicit a response.
The company’s decision to independently launch 4G stems from the fact that it has recently switched off its CDMA network and needs to progressively migrate its 6 million-odd CDMA customers to fourth-generation services. More importantly, DoT approval for RCom’s spectrum sharing pact in the 800 MHz band with Reliance Jio Infocomm is still pending in eight circles, including Haryana, Punjab,West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Northeast and Odisha.
Earlier this year, RCom had inked a 17-circle airwaves sharing deal in the 800 MHz band with Jio, and in April, DoT allowed them to share such airwaves in 9 circles.