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Betting big on telecom, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani is deploying the best resources of his flagship company RIL for its fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband services foray in the coming months.
While son Akash has already joined Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, RIL’s telecom subsidiary, as a full-time executive, sources close to the group revealed that Mukesh has detailed his confidante and RIL executive director PMS Prasad, who is spearheading the company’s oil and gas business, to take additional responsibility of RIL’s 4G services rollout plans.
Reliance Jio plans to offer its 4G wireless broadband services by October, beginning with south India, sources said.
Armed with cash reserves of close to Rs. 89,000 crore, the company’s telecom foray is seen as a game changer for RIL that has faced severe criticism on its producing gas block — KG-D6, situated off the eastern coast of India.
Prasad is a Reliance veteran, and has worked closely with Mukesh’s father and founder of the Reliance group, Dhirubhai Ambani, since 1981. He joined the undivided Reliance group from Schlumberger’s Africa unit.
Prasad, 61, also on the board of RIL, will continue to oversee the company’s oil and gas business.
“Prasad’s project execution skills are beyond compare....be it the execution of the undivided Reliance’s petrochemical complex at Hazira or the first mega refinery at Jamnagar and the company’s biggest gas field off the eastern coast,” said a source close to RIL. “As an added responsibility, he has now been asked to mentor the company’s 4G plans.”
However, an RIL spokesperson refused to offer any comments.
Reliance Jio picked up specttrum in the 1,800 MHz band for `11,000 crore at the recent auction. The 1,800 MHz band is mostly used for voice services by incumbent operators such as Airtel and Vodafone.
The undivided Reliance Group’s telecom business had gone to Anil Ambani when the two brothers divided up the business in 2005. Mukesh Ambani’s acquisition of Infotel Broadband Services in June 2011 marked his return to the telecom industry.