For the first time Mukesh Ambani has made an official statement regarding the date of launch of 4G broadband services by Reliance Jio on a Pan India scale. While addressing the shareholders in the 40th annual general meeting (AGM) of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani declared that Jio will roll out its services in 2015 in a phased manner. RIL promoted Jio holds pan-India broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum that can be used for 4G services. The company had acquired it through auction for Rs 12,847.77 crore. According to Ambani, Reliance Jio’s network and broadband services will be ubiquitous, “initially covering all states, all the 5,000 towns and cities accounting for over 90 percent of urban India and over 215,000 villages in India.” Eventually, Ambani said, Reliance Jio’s network will encompass each of our over 600,000 villages.
Ambani added that Reliance Jio’s 4G broadband initiative was a Rs. 70,000 crore investment for the company, Speaking on the plans of building a ‘country-wide broadband next-generation infrastructure’, Ambani said that “there are over 100,000 people working across the country in creating the digital infrastructure backbone for this network. They are passionate about building the largest broadband network that the world has ever seen. Reliance Jio will be one of the largest job-creating and wealth-creating business initiatives in India.”
Reliance is already in the process of field trials across key cities and the expanded field trials will commence from August this year and continue till the end of 2014 or extend up to early 2015. As per the rules, 2015 is last year for all companies who won BWA spectrum to roll out the services in at least 90 per cent of the service areas failing which the Department of Telecom will have the right to withdraw the spectrum.
To meet the roll out obligations RJio will surely launch services in the 2300MHz band on a pan India scale in 2015, but whether or not they will also launch services on the 1800MHz band that it won in the February 2014 auctions remains to be seen. In a demo held by Jio in January this year they had showcased TD-LTE on 2300MHz band demonstrating peak speeds of up to 49 Mbps. They also showcased the concept of Jio homes where a customer premise equipment (CPE) installed on the outer wall of the home would connect to the LTE network tower and through Ethernet wire connect to wifi router inside the house provide home broadband and also to Jio TV set top box for viewing Live and on demand TV content.
It is not known yet whether Jio will launch 4G services for mobile phones at the time of launch, it could either do what AirTel did by launching TD-LTE on 2300MHz with CSFB falling back onto 1800MHz band for voice or it could use the 1800MHz band for rolling FD-LTE and offering voice services through VoLTE. In either case the device eco system is not that mature for LTE yet, and it will take a few more years for 4G to become mainstream in India.
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