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Thursday, 07 January 2016 05:29

Reliance ushers in Convergence through 4G

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Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries soft launched its much awaited 4G service on 27 December heralding a new era of converged services in India. Reliance had entered the telecom space 13 years ago with its CDMA mobile service. The nationwide soft-launch of its 4G mobile services have been launched for its employees via its subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm. 

The launch was made on the eve of the 83rd birth anniversary of Dhirubhai Ambani, which was attended by the group’s 35,000 employees and their families at the Reliance Corporate Park in Navi Mumbai, had around 80,000 more tuned in to the event from 1,000-plus locations across the country and one in Dallas, Texas in the US. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who’s also the brand ambassador for Jio, and Oscar-winning music director A R Rahman performed at the event. In attendance were the younger brother, Anil Ambani, his wife Tina Ambani and sons Jai Anmol and Jai Anshul. Dhirubhai’s wife Kokilaben was also present.

“While you enjoy Jio Digital Life, I am also counting on you, as part of my family, to be part of co-creating the best experience for all our customers. I am sure that when you experience the next-generation service of Reliance Jio — you will spread the word,” chairman Mukesh Ambani said at the soft launch of the services. “India is ranked around 150 in internet and mobile broadband penetration out of 230 countries, Jio is conceived to change this… 1.3 billion Indians cannot be left behind as the world enters a new era. I have no doubt that with the launch of Jio, India’s rank will go up from around 150 to among the top 10 in the next few years for internet and mobile broadband penetration,” he added.

The strategy behind having a soft launch for employees before a full-fledged commercial one is to sort out any snags in the service and bring it to perfection before the all-India commercial services expected to commence from April this year. 4G, or LTE as it is called globally, compresses huge amounts of data making it easier to transport it over the airwaves. This provides better speeds, more bandwidth and, faster downloads of videos giving a better viewing experience to the users.

Reliance Jio basically promises to bring in a bouquet of converged services integrating voice, data and high-speed broadband at the most competitive price points for which it is well known. The prices in the segment may come down heavily as the competition grows. Already, a pan-India launch of 4G services has been done by the market leader Bharti Airtel. The second and third largest player, Vodafone India, Aircel and Idea Cellular, have also recently joined the bandwagon with launches across a few cities. Most 4G services are available between Rs 80 and Rs 125 per gigabyte of data. That is roughly the same price as 3G with a lot more goodies, such as voice and free messages, thrown in. Some analysts feel that as the five networks get into play, data prices could drop to Rs 10 to Rs 50 per gigabyte.

A peek into the kind of competition in store can be gauged from the fact that analysts of Credit Suisse, who have tested Jio’s 4G network, claim it is faster than that of Airtel. For instance, the analysts claim to have experienced peak download speed of 70 Mbps on most occasions and in the 15-30 Mbps range while on the move. In comparison, Airtel 4G gives 10-20 Mbps.

Reliance jio, had re-entered the telephony market in 2010 by acquiring Infotel Broadband, which was the only company to bag broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum in all the 22 circles in the country. The Mukesh Ambani firm went on to acquire spectrum in the 1800 Mhz band across 14 circles in the February 2014 auctions, and subsequently acquired spectrum in 800 Mhz in 10 circles and 1800 Mhz in six circles in this year’s auction. As a result, today the company having spent Rs 34,000 crore in acquiring spectrum assets in the last five years has the largest footprint of liberalised spectrum in the country and is suitably positioned to provide a range of voice and high-speed data services.

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