Department of Telecommunication (DoT) is all set to approve Reliance Industries‘ (RIL) request to be allowed to test voice services on its 4G networks, reports The Economic Times.

The report states that a DoT department called Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), which is responsible for setting telecom standards and research new products & services, has recommended that RIL be allocated around 10,000 mobile numbers for testing purposes.

The department has also reportedly recommended that RIL-owned Infotel Broadband be allowed to connect its network to other operators as part of testing the service, thereby allowing these 10,000 test numbers to make and receive calls from other consumers. However, it has noted that the testing activities should be limited to a specific geographic area at a time and the same equipment is to be used for testing in different circles.

Also, it has recommended the government to allot a specific time period for testing purposes, during which the company should not be allowed to offer commercial services. Note that Infotel Broadband is currently the only firm in the country with pan-India BWA spectrum.

This development ties in with earlier reports of RIL bundling voice services along with its data offerings. It was previously indicated that RIL would be tying up with Anil Ambani’s RCOM to offer these voice services. However, earlier this year, a senior RIL official had reportedly stated during its annual general body meeting, that RIL would not be partnering with RCOM and it would be launching operations all on its own. He had also stated that RIL was planning to even make self-branded handsets for its 4G rollout.

Voice Services Over 4G Networks?

What’s particularly interesting is that RIL has sought DoT’s approval to test voice services on its 4G network, while the current telecom policy doesn’t allow 4G licensees to offer voice service to its subscribers. That being said, the recently introduced telecom policy which is expected to be implemented in 2013, does allow operators to offer voice services through 4G or BWA whenever an appropriate regulatory framework for progressive liberalisation of spectrum utilisation is established in the country.

Earlier in the week, RIL had inked a deal with Moscow-based Spirit DSP to license Spirit’s TeamSpirit Video and Voice engine to RIL subsidiary Infotel, so as to provide Skype-like video and voice calling services (VVoIP) to its subscribers over its soon to be launched LTE network. Infotel had reportedly informed the government recently, that it had natively developed a Voice over LTE (VoLTE) platform and these trials will help the company improve its platform, as indicated by the report.

Reliance Industries (RIL) is reportedly planning to roll out its much awaited 4G service in Mumbai and Delhi in mid 2013 and had inked contracts with Ericsson and Samsung to build the network, IBM for IT integration and Microsoft for security solutions. The company had also apparently started laying optical fibre cable network in Mumbai and Delhi and has inked a contract with Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd (HFCL) for this purpose, which in turn has tied up with companies like Alcatel Lucent and and Infinera.

Last month, Ajit Nazre, a former partner with the venture fund Kliener Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB), and Arvind Rao, former CEO of mobile VAS company OnMobile Global, had joined Reliance Industries in an advisory capacity for the company’s 4G rollout. While both Nazre and Rao had separately confirmed this development to MediaNama, they had declined to comment on the exact nature of their roles.


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