Mukesh Ambani signalled on Thursday that India's broadband customers could look forward to a sharp dip in charges as his big foray into telecoms with a 4G network rolls out soon.
Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJI), a subsidiary of his Reliance Industries (RIL), plans to more than triple its headcount to 10,000 over next year, the RIL chairman told the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting.
Ambani, however, gave few details on plans for its launch of 4G telecom services.
“Our vision for India is that broadband and digital services will no longer be a luxury item — a scarce commodity — to be rationed amongst the privileged few. We envision an India where these are basic necessities to be consumed in abundance by consumers and small businesses alike, as much in far-flung villages as in our largest cities,” said Ambani.
RIL, he said, has invested about Rs 18,000 crore in the telecom venture so far, mostly in acquisition of spectrum and details about “the product and the launch” will be shared at the next AGM in June 2014.
RIL’s 4G services will be available in some cities by year-end and will enable a download speed of up to 100 Mbps, company sources said. During the next one year, it will be rolled out in a large number of cities across India.
At present, Bharti Airtel offers 4G services in Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Pune. It charges R950 per month for downloading 6 GB of data. Its data card (4G LTE USB modem) is priced Rs 5,000.
State-run fixedline service providers Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) charge around R600 per month for unlimited broadband access. However, under the scheme, their download speed is only 512 kbps.
“In India, any high-speed broadband service available at a tariff of around Rs 500 per month for unlimited access will become popular,” said BK Syngal, former CMD, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL).
Reliance Jio Infocomm is the only company to have nationwide permits for 4G services but has not started operations even after three years of acquiring spectrum. However, the company’s possession of 20 MHz of spectrum for 4G services will give it an advantage over competitors, sources said.
RIL recently signed a deal with Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications (RCOM) for using its fibre network.