Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm is reportedly in discussions with vendors including Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and Samsung for the next phase of its pan-India deployment of 4G LTE sites roll-out.
The new 4G entrant operator is seeking vendors for a plan to add over 40,000 new LTE sites nationwide, along with the deployment of technologies like Carrier Aggregation or LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) sources told financial daily Economic Times.
The report said that these vendors have initiated proof-of-concepts (PoCs) with Jio, and are currently testing their equipment across LTE bands. “Jio may award the contract by early next year for the next phase of expansion, which will begin later in 2017,” a source was quoted as saying by the publication.
Samsung has been the sole 4G equipment supplier for Jio in the country, having bagged multiple contracts to supply sites. It recently bagged a contract for around 45,000 new LTE sites from the telco, which will take the total sites count to over 140,000 sites.
The publication said that Jio may change its strategy to introduce a multi-vendor environment for its 4G LTE network, in the backdrop of concerns over uncertainty over Samsung’s networking hardware business. It added that Jio may be attempting to minimize risk in response to ongoing speculation contract would represent a change of strategy for Jio.
In the last 12 months various international reports fueled the speculation that Samsung may exit the networking hardware business. A report by Korea Times reported that Cisco has approached Samsung with an offer to buy multiple times.
The ET report also said that adopting a multi-vendor strategy may also be an attempt to negotiate lower prices.
Jio, which launched commercial services earlier this month with aggressive data-driven pricing strategy, is currently locking horns with incumbent operators over points of interconnect and mobile number portability issues.
Jio is also participating in the spectrum auction, which kicked off today, to increase its spectrum holding across bands. Based on the outcome, the telco will expand its network accordingly, industry experts say.