Reliance Jio plans to roll out 4G services by Dec; Airtel says it will launch before them
27 Jul 2015

It’s a race to the finish.

Telecom giants Reliance Jio and Airtel are currently looking to roll out 4G services across the country before the end of this year. In such a situation, getting the first mover advantage would be highly beneficial.

Both companies are leaving no stones unturned to ensure their own respective wins. On the one hand Reliance Jio has set December, 2015 as the deadline for the roll out of their 4G services pan-India, leveraging their vast network of Reliance Digital outlets and on the other hand Airtel has declared that they will launch 4G services across 44 cities before December, reports the Times of India.

Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Jio has made a strategic decision of leveraging 1298+ Reliance Digital outlets across India to distribute their new 4G services, reports the Times of India. Both Reliance Digital Express and Reliance Mini Express Stores would be extensively used to bundle in 4G services, at a discounted rate.

According to the report, the telecom giant is also in talks with smartphone brands like Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, among others, to embed Reliance Jio 4G services with their new handsets to make it easier for the customers.

RIL chief financial officer V. Srikanth, was quoted in the report as saying, “We will start extensive beta testing of our telecom infrastructure, including network across the country in the ensuing weeks to commence operations in December.” He added, “We will have a range of smartphones from entry level to premium segment in our digital stores across the country.”

With close to 400-500 new Reliance Digital stores added every year, the decision to leverage their outlets can be a major factor in determining the market leader. Insider reports also claim that around 1000 new ‘Jio Centers’ would be launched, along with 5,00,000 ‘Connectivity Kiosks’ across shopping malls and main markets of every city. Reliance could also launch their own flagship brand handset called ‘Reconnect’, which will be sold via Reliance Outlets. 4G services from Jio would be embedded by default in these branded handsets.

As per Reliance Jio’s strategy and planning head Anshuman Thakkur, the company has tied up with various firms to use 75,000 towers, out of which they own 30,000. By December end, this number would be doubled. Currently, they are reportedly testing for their 4G services roll out by the end of the year.

According to media reports, Airtel has also claimed that they will launch 4G services before Reliance Jio. As per a senior Airtel executive, they will launch 4G services across 44 cities, meanwhile upgrade in 20 cities where they have already launched 4G, albeit in a testing phase.

They have already started a nation-wide campaign to migrate their 3G users into 4G, and even offering free home delivery of the new SIM at no extra charge.

With 19.5 million 3G users, Airtel is India’s biggest provider of mobile Internet (which also includes data card and WiFi based distribution). The company has already slashed their 4G internet rates, making it cheaper than 3G, which could trigger a price war.

Airtel may also launch their own branded handsets costing around Rs 4000, which will have 4G embedded. Like its rival, Airtel is also in talks with major smartphone makers to offer their 4G services by default in new handsets.