New Delhi: Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) has signed up 5,000 subscribers for its wireless broadband service in Pune and Bangalore in the first month of operations, the company said.
The CDMA wireless operator, keen to diversify beyond voice into wireless data, had launched the services in the two cities on 1 July and plans to launch in eight more by the year-end, taking its total subscriber base to 100,000, RCom’s head for broadband services, Prakash Bajpai said of the company’s Wimax-based broadband plans.
Wimax, short for worldwide inter-operability for microwave access, is a standard that is capable of data speeds of 10 megabits per second (mbps) up to 2km away from a radio transmitter. In comparison, third generation (3G) networks promise data throughput of 2mbps and data-friendly cellular networks deliver speeds of up to 512 kilobits per second.
Bajpai said his firm was investing Rs150 crore in the WiMax network. With this foray, RCom has become the biggest Wimax-based wireless broadband operator in the country, even before the government has relaxed the spectrum-charges on the service.
Under the current laws, companies offering this service have to pay the government Rs24,000 per month per base-station and around Rs83 per month per subscriber terminal. As a result, other players in the wireless broadband segment, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Sify Ltd, are yet to launch home consumer-friendly tariffs. RCom is offering unlimited download packages starting at Rs750 a month for home consumers. Tariffs for businesses range from Rs1,200 to Rs10,000 a month.
Also unlike other players, RCom has been going for “carpet coverage” of the chosen cities by installing Wimax base-stations on its existing CDMA towers and making wireless broadband available on demand across the city. RCom’s rival VSNL is also in the process of putting up a carpet network in the top-five cities, but it has so far launched on-demand wireless broadband service only in Bangalore. It declined to give details of further roll-out.
RCom’s broadband business, which has more than seven lakh customers in 40 cities, is its fastest growing division, increasing its revenues by 69% year-on-year to Rs383 crore in the last quarter. The company’s revenues grew by 32% in the period.
Gaurav Dua, senior research analyst at broking firm Sharekhan.com said that the first-mover advantage from the current roll-out for a future purely retail Wimax service is limited. “Right now, due to licence fee concerns they are targeting SMEs (small and medium enterprises)... and the one lakh figure is probably based on that.”