Mukesh Ambani-led energy-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries (RIL) is set to start its fourth generation (4G) bundled mobile and data services through a beta launch on August 15, coinciding with the India's 69th Independence Day. Reliance Jio, the telecom arm of RIL, seeks to test the network with one lakh Reliance employees to start with before a commercial launch in December.
The group, which has invested around Rs 1 lakh crore on its 4G network, plans to expand the beta launch to 5 million consumers by September-end by offering about five Jio connections to each Reliance employee for an extensive beta programme to further test the network to plug loopholes, if any, said sources in the know of the development.
This comes at a time when Sunil Bharti Mittal-led Bharti Airtel has already raced past Jio to expand its 4G services to cover nearly 300 towns to take the first mover advantage, becoming the first telecom company in the country to roll out 4G services pan-India. Reliance Jio's first full year of commercial operation will be FY 2016-17. Till then, the network is expected to work in the beta mode.
"We don't want to take any chances. We have successfully conducted pre-launch tests and demonstrated lawful intercept and monitoring (LIM) facilities for long-term evolution (LTE) data and voice, video & messaging services in all telecom circles and extensive beta launch will further test our networks before full-fledged commercial launch in December this year," said a Reliance Jio employee. An e-mail sent to RIL seeking response on this story remained unanswered till the time of going to print.