3G, the fourth generation is 4G

MAXIMUM NETWORK

Reliance Jio has put in place an elaborate network of towers through pacts with several companies

COMPANY NO. OFTOWERS CIRCLES |y
INDUSTOWERS 1,13,490 15
GTLINFRA 27,800 ALL INDIA
ASCENDTELECOM 4,500 ALLINDIA
TOWER VISION 8,400 ALLINDIA
ATC INDIA 11,000 ALLINDIA
RELIANCE COMM* 45,000 ALLINDIA

*ln addition. Reliance Jio has agreement with Reliance Communications for sharing its optical fibre infrastructure of nearly 1,20,000 fibre-pair km within cities and 5.00,000 fibre-pair km between cities Source: Trai and companies

Disruptive Pricing

It was the second attempt at ‘Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein’ — the clarion call with which the Ambanis entered tele­communications in 2003 and promised to revolutionise voice, data and Internet communication by providing ser­vices to the nook and corner of the country at affordable prices. The result was a mixed bag and Reliance Commu­nications under Anil Ambani was limping along. But by June 2010, Mukesh Ambani, within months of negotiat­ing the end to the non-compete agreement with his brother Anil, bought through Reliance Industries (RIL) a 95 per cent controlling share in Himachal Futuristic’s In- fotel Broadband Services for Rs 4,800 crore.

Infotel Broadband was the only player to win the broad­band spectrum auction for all 22 zones in India, and within hours after the auction ended, RIL agreed to pick up the tab of Rs 12,848 crore ($2.7 billion) for the spec­trum. On the bandwidth side, RIL, therefore, acquired 20

 

MHz of contiguous spectrum across the country, twice that of the 10 MHz that its rivals, the other 3G telecom auction winners, had.

It has been an excruciating wait for things to happen since. Five years have elapsed. Reliance Jio as a first-time entrant has struggled with setting up its wireless connec­tivity, erecting standalone towers, and fighting right-of- way issues. Along the way RJIL picked up additional spectrum in 1,800 MHz in 14 circles across India, and in March 2015 further acquired 800 MHz and 1,800 MHz in 13 key circles in another spectrum auction. This gave RJIL spectrum in either 800 MHz or 1,800 MHz or both in 20 out of the total of 22 circles in the country.

Both US-based investment research firm Alliance Bern­stein and a report in the newspaper, Mint, dated 12 May 2015 claim that Reliance Jio has invested $13 billion in five years. In comparison, Bharti Airtel has invested $15.78 billion over the past 23 years. Reliance Communi­cations has invested $11.4 billion in its lifetime. These in­vestments include payment for spectrum and infrastruc­ture. These figures have not been refuted by these companies, though none are willing to confirm them. Ob­viously, the cost of building a network has risen. Optical fi­bre for 4G networks is costly. The investment of other op­erators like Idea, Aircel, MTS and Vodafone is unknown

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