The launch of Reliance Jio’s 4G services will not be delayed beyond March-April, sources said, indicating that recent reports to the contrary are merely the result of media confusion.
“Nothing has changed,” said a ground-level marketing executive. “Targets remain the same.”
Media had reported that Jio has pushed its launch once again, this time to the second half of this year.
However, as various report pointed out recently, the reports were based on a mishearing of what Mukesh Ambani, chairman of the company, had said in a CNN interview.
Jio’s 4G launch is eagerly awaited across the country the company has already built up a radio network that is several times bigger than its nearest competitor.
Though the initial target was to launch in December, delays in network roll-out resulted in the internal target getting pushed back to March.
According to another source, a distribution partner, the updated target that the company has given is March 15. However, said the source, he expects launch to happen only by the end of the month.
Most of the infrastructure for the launch is already in place, including and most crucially — millions of LYF branded handsets.
These handsets are currently lying in godowns of Reliance Retail and will be sold with aggressive offers and freebies once the service launch takes place.
Jio is also engaged in testing and optimizing its Band 5 services. Band 5, or 850 MHz FDD, was acquired in late January for testing under a deal with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications.
Meanwhile, Jio’s biggest competitor Bharti Airtel has started upgrading its network from LTE to LTE Advanced. The latter supports combination of multiple bands to serve one handset, resulting in a smoother and faster data experience.
Jio’s third pillar will be ‘intranet’ services — the type that TRAI had recently shown a green flag to.
Reports indicate that the company has tied up with chip manufacturer Nvidia for bringing a connected gaming console to India. Other reports had indicated that the company will also offer a set-top-box which will function both as a regular STB for TV as well as a connected media center.
The launch of 4G services by Jio is expected to result in a huge reduction in data tariff across the country.
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance India Mobile played a crucial part in reducing voice call charges in India, making it affordable to the masses and triggering a mobile revolution in the country.
Jio’s entry is expected to play a similar role in wireless data, where growth is far below its potential due to high tariffs. Vodafone and Bharti Airtel charge between Rs 125 to 250 per GB for their 4G service. Idea has already cut data prices to a range of Rs 67 to Rs 125 per GB, anticipating upcoming competition from Jio’s 4G launch.