Reliance Jio moved Telecom Ministry to Shift Spectrum for 4G Launch

Reliance-Jio-logoMumbai, India, March 08, 2014: Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) fared rather impressively in the recently concluded spectrum airwave auction. However, the Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) owned entity has requested the Telecom Ministry to shift some of the 1800 MHz spectrum blocks it won in the Northeast region in India and allot airwaves in a contiguous block which is essential for launching 4G services. The telecom company won 32 spectrum blocks in the 1800 MHz band of which 25 are contiguous.

In a letter written to the Department of Telecommunications’ Wireless Planning Advisor, Reliance Jio said, ‘Dispersed frequency allocation for seven blocks in non-contiguous sets will have very limited use for an operator planning to deploy a (4G) technology like LTE.’ LTE stands for ‘Long Term Evolution.’ It’s a technology standard for offering next-generation, ultra-fast mobile services called 4G, the evolution of 3G. A total 101 spectrum blocks of 200 KHz each were won by multiple bidders out of the 125 blocks auctioned in the Northeast.

Reliance Jio, at least on paper is justified to ask this to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) because of a critical point in the rules of the spectrum airwave auction. The rules states, ‘Reconfiguration or rearrangements of blocks/spot frequency may be carried out with the authorisation of the DoT’s Wireless Planning & Coordination (WPC) cell.’ DoT had earlier stated that subject to availability, it would support frequency reorganization so that multiple winner of spectrum can be allotted continuous spectrum in a set of frequency blogs. RJIL has mentioned this in its letter.

RJIL is the holder of a pan-India 4G license. Initially, the company planned to offer data services. However, it became increasingly obvious over time that the RIL owned company would enter the voice segment as well. RJIL entered the voice segment for the first time in February 2014 by buying 1800 MHz band spectrum in 14 regions for around Rupees 11,000 Crore. It has bought five or more units or ‘MHz’ in each of these circles, which is a necessity for 4G.

On March 4th March, Reliance Jio inked an agreement with Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Infratel to share towers for expeditious rollout of its much-awaited data and voice services. This would lead to a faster rollout of services as well as reduce the capital needed to setup the necessary infrastructure. Another benefit of this tower-sharing pact is that it will benefit the environment.

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