Home / Industry / Telecom /  Reliance Jio likely to delay its December pan-India launch

Mukesh Ambani’s ambitious telecom venture Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (R-Jio), which was scheduled to launch pan-India services in December, appears to have been delayed.

According to the company’s statement in its second quarter analyst presentation, R-Jio will launch its services by the end of the current fiscal year—an indication that the launch may be delayed beyond December.

“Financial year 2016-17 is projected to be the first year of commercial operations" for R-Jio, said the statement.

This is a subtle shift from Ambani’s own comment at Reliance Industries Ltd’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Friday, when he said R-Jio will launch operations in December and the fiscal year 2016-17 will be the first “full" year of its operations.

A mail sent to R-Jio on Monday remained unanswered.

“We are currently in the pre-launch testing and stabilization phase of this large and complex network. Over the next few months, we will initiate an extensive beta launch involving millions of friendly customers across all our markets. This beta programme will be upgraded into commercial operations around December of this year. I am glad to announce that financial year 2016-17 will be the first full year of commercial operations for Jio," Ambani had said in June.

The company also informed analysts on Friday that the launch is likely to be delayed.

“Launch of RIL Jio will be slightly postponed from end of Q3FY16 to Q1FY17. However, company will come out with mobile handsets under the brand name of LYF from mid-November 2015. The budget of this handsets will be from 7,000 to 25,000," wrote Dhaval Joshi, analyst with brokerage Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd, in a note published late on Friday.

As part of its fourth generation (4G) telecom service, the company has mainly two parts to its proposed business: first, a wireless telecom service which will be available through cellphones, and second, a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network for offering broadband services to households.

A telecom consultant, who did not wish to be identified, said that while the firm has been able to set up a substantial infrastructure in terms of telecom towers to roll out its wireless network, the integration of services with its devices ecosystem is taking time because of the discontinuity in its spectrum availability across the 22 circles in India.

R-Jio has a pan-India licence in the 2,300MHz frequency band, which has not seen many international 4G launches using the so-called long term evolution (LTE) technology standard. This is mainly because the higher the frequency, the lower the signal strength, although it offers faster data delivery speed.

This increases the risk of its customers not getting high-speed seamless connectivity pan-India due to the limited reach of the 2,300MHz band and no fallback option to others’ 4G network.

Besides, it also has licences for 800MHz in 10 telecom circles and 1,800MHz in 14 circles.

“We have intimated the DoT (department of telecommunications) and are in extensive discussions to share RCom’s (Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications Ltd) 800MHz band across 7 circles to broaden the scope of our coverage," said Anshuman Thakur, head of strategy, R-Jio, during a press conference on Friday.

He said this will help the firm provide seamless connectivity to customers across the country. The company is in discussions with other operators too.

Thakur said that for the FTTH segment, R-Jio is also talking to several local cable operators to achieve last-mile connectivity so that more homes can be connected by the time of the launch.

“As we draw close to the launch, we are in advanced testing phases through 10,000 professional testers who are covering almost a million kilometres everyday and giving us feedback," he said.

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