Reliance Jio awaits spectrum integration with RCom for 4G launch

Reliance Industries is awaiting the integration of spectrum that it expects to get from a sharing-and-trading pact with Reliance Communications (RCom), besides scaling up its user base to a few million before launching its much-awaited but delayed 4G telecom service.
Announcing its Q4 earnings for 2015-16, the Mukesh Ambani-controlled company said its telecom unit, Reliance Jio Infocomm, aims to achieve 90 per cent population coverage before starting commercial operations and added that it’s already around the 70 per cent mark.
“We are testing Reliance Jio on half a million users and want to scale it up for a few million users before we launch the service commercially,” Anshuman Thakur, head of strategy and planning at Reliance Jio, told reporters on Friday.
Jio’s average data consumption per user exceeded 18 GB within the first month of service and is increasing. Average voice usage was over 250 minutes in the period. The company is widely expected to launch commercial services by December, after having started trials with its staff and partners on December 28, 2015.
“Beta trials will be transitioned to a commercial rollout at a later date,” Thakur said, adding that a commercial launch date hasn’t been decided. Thakur said spectrum integration was a factor being considered for the commercial rollout.
Jio signed a pact with RCom, owned by Mukesh’s younger brother Anil, to share 800 MHz airwaves in 17 circles. Approvals for nine — Mumbai, UP-East, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and the Northeast — came in from the telecom department on Friday.
RCom has also agreed to sell 800 MHz spectrum — considered very efficient for 4G services — to Jio in nine areas. The agreements are an effort to leverage each other’s spectrum holdings to launch high-speed mobile broadband services, or 4G, across India and take on top incumbents Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.