Despite strong market rumor and experts’ forecast Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Industries’ telecom arm Reliance Jio Infocomm skipped 900MHz spectrum and acquired spectrum in 1800 MHz in 14 circles (Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Maharastra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Andra Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam and North East) only in the recently concluded auction.
Reliance Jio, formerly Infotel Broadband won pan India 20MHz spectrum in 2.3GHz band in 2010. In 2012 they bought unified spectrum license, which indicated that the company will jump into voice services too. To confirm their participation in voice market they also joined the auction for 900MHz and 1800MHz band airwaves. But why didn’t they pick up 900MHz band?
Incumbents Squeezed up to Grab 900MHz airwaves
In the metro circles, Airtel and Vodafone have spectrum in 900MHz, license of which is going to be expire by November 2014. These operators, if failed to retain this airwave, would have to go for 1800MHz which will increase capital expenditure. With huge money Reliance Jio becomes a major threat to incumbent players. The bidding sees some fierce calls, and it goes from 55 – 110% up from the reserve price.
RJio Saved Money for 700/800MHz
In coming days govt. will auction for 800MHz and 700MHz, which are more efficient than 900MHz. LTE over these bands have stronger ecosystem than LTE over 900MHz. Also Jio’s main target is to offer data. 700/800Mhz will offer better coverage as well as faster data connectivity. So definitely RJio saved money for buying these airwaves.
With 4G Jio Don’t Want 3G
Though Idea Cellular, who acquired 900MHz in Delhi circle, has plans to roll out 3G services over india. But with 4G/LTE-TDD RJio may find 3G is just a waste.
Voice over 1800MHz
RJio is making 1.8GHz band for voice services, which has ecosystem ready. It does not need any new ecosystem to make unlike 3G on 900Mhz.
Towers are ready to equipped with 1800MHz BTS
RJio is setting up and hiring many towers across the country to roll out LTE on 2300MHz. To roll out voice and LTE data on 1800MHz it will take lesser number of towers. So they will not have to spend any extra money on setting up towers to roll out voice and LTE data on 1800MHz
1800MHz for LTE-FDD
RJio has acquired atleast 5MHz spectrum in this band which will help them launching LTE-FDD in India. Worldwide LTE1800 is widely accepted, more than 35% of total LTE roll out are on this band. So LTE1800 has a stronger ecosystem than any other LTE roll outs. RJio will launch 2G voice on 1800MHz, LTE-FDD on 1800MHz and LTE-TD on 2300MHz. There are several operators across globe who have dual mode LTE networks.
LTE Advanced: Carrier Aggregation
With different types of band – RJio opens up for carrier aggregation to roll out LTE Advanced in future.
Possible Take over of Videocon Mobile
Videocon has unified 1800MHz spectrum in Bihar & Jharkhand, UP East & West, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Apart from Gujarat and MP RJio and Videocon do not have any common licenses. So a possible takeover in future? All though Reliance Jio has officially denied this, but time will tell.