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Jio set to launch 4G services next year

Mumbai, June 18: Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio will launch its fourth-generation (4G) telecom services in 2015, five years after it acquired nationwide broadband spectrum.

Many had expected the services to be launched this year, but Ambani said the company wanted to ensure that its offer was “future proof and world-class’’.

At Reliance Industries’ 40th annual general meeting (AGM) here today, Ambani said RIL would invest up to Rs 70,000 crore in 4G, which would be launched in a phased manner.

He said Reliance was conducting field trials with some services. Expanded field trials will start from August across multiple cities and continue till early next year.

Reliance Jio’s network would initially cover all states, 5,000 towns and cities accounting for over 90 per cent of urban India apart from over 215,000 villages. At a later stage, the network will cover all 600,000 villages in the country.

“They (its services) will ensure that every Indian has access to state-of-the-art digital connectivity and services that are on a par with or better than anywhere else in the world,” he said.

RIL had five years ago bought out Infotel Broadband Services after the latter won broadband spectrum across 22 circles.

The company plans to use fourth-generation technology called long-term evolution, or LTE, to offer wireless broadband services.

Observers point out that it will not be easy for the company to acquire new subscribers. If RIL comes out with aggressive pricing to grab market share, it may have an adverse impact on the industry where companies have only recently started raising tariffs.

At the AGM, Nita Ambani, chairperson of Reliance Foundation, was inducted into the company’s board as the first woman director.

Reliance Jio is expected to use between 30,000 and 45,000 mobile towers for its 4G services, according to Credit Suisse. “Our recent channel checks suggest that Reliance Jio has completed about 11,000 base station installations nationwide and is possibly targeting 30,000-45,000 base stations by launch. We expect this target to be met by December 2014 or March 2015,” Credit Suisse analysts Sunil Tirumalai and Chunky Shah said in a recent report.

 
 
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