Surprisingly, Reliance Jio Infocomm, the 4G subsidiary of Reliance Industries has inked a international data connectivity agreement with Bharti Airtel, despite having recently tied-up with brotherly concern Reliance Communications for sharing its nationwide inter-city fibre optic network infrastructure, within India.
Reliance Communications also owns Reliance Globalcom (previously Flag Telecom), an International connectivity provider. However, there is some uncertainty around Reliance Globalcom’s future plans – RCOM has said that it is in talks with Samena Capital and a consortium of global PE funds for exiting Globalcom, with a deal – if it goes through – expected to be announced by the end of May 2013. This suggests that RIL chose not to buy Reliance Globalcom (if it ever had the option), or to partner with it, though we never know: Jio Infocomm might choose to not depend on one service provider, and eventually ink a deal with Globalcom as well.
The international data connectivity deal will allow Reliance Jio to connect to the world’s major business hubs and ISPs, and will be crucial for Jio Infocomm since a majority of the Internet bandwidth consumption in India originates outside of India.
Airtel claims to have global network of 225,000 km across 50 countries and 5 continents. While the deal period or the financial details of the partnership with Airtel were not disclosed, Airtel informs that this partnership will allow Jio Infocomm to utilize a dedicated fiber pair on Airtel’s i2i submarine cable system to extend its network and service to customers across Asia Pacific region. Airtel’s i2i submarine cable system currently connects India to Singapore and was set up in 2001 by Airtel and Singtel, however Singtel divested its stake in i2i in January 2007.
There are also indications that Reliance Jio Infocomm was reportedly looking to ink a telecom tower sharing agreement with Reliance Communications, although there is no further updates on this deal.
On a related note, do read our compilation on what’s being said about Reliance Industries’ launch of 4G data services.
(by Vikas SN and Nikhil Pahwa)