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In a move that has the potential to create India’s biggest shared telecom network, Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance JioInfocomm and India’s biggest telecom operator Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel on Tuesday signed a wide-ranging agreement to share infrastructure and Internet broadband links, among others.
The arrangement may be extended in future to roaming services on 2G, 3G and 4G platforms, and any other areas of mutual benefit relating to telecommunication, the two companies said in a statement. The announcement comes just a month ahead of the government’s planned auction of telecom spectrum in January.
Reliance JioInfocomm is widely expected to roll out nationwide 4G services shortly, amid speculation that it might offer schemes bundled with hardware such as tablets and smartphones.
The agreement with Bharti "will include optic fibre network – inter and intra city, submarine cable networks, towers and internet broadband services and other such opportunities in the future," the statement said.
The cooperation is aimed at avoiding duplication of infrastructure, wherever possible, and to preserve capital and the environment.
"This will also provide redundancy in order to ensure seamless services to customers of the respective parties," it said.
On Monday, Mukesh Ambani had said at an industrial summit in Punjab that the Reliance group was open to join hands with Bharti Airtel for improving telecom network for 4G services in Punjab. He was sharing the dais with Sunil Mittal on the occasion.
The companies did not disclose financial details of the agreement, but said "the pricing would be at "arm’s length, based on prevailing market rates".
Reliance Jio already has a pact with Reliance Communications, controlled by Mukesh’s younger brother Anil Ambani, for sharing optic fibre network and mobile towers.
Reliance Jio Infocomm is the only pan-India operator with broadband wireless access (‘BWA’) spectrum across 22 circles capable of offering fourth generation (4G) LTE (long-term evolution) wireless services.
It is setting up a pan India telecom infrastructure to provide high speed internet and communication services.