coai-rjilReliance Jio Infocomm has joined the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) as a core member of the GSM industry body. With the new addition the number of Core members of the COAI goes up to seven.

Core membership to COAI requires the telecom company to hold a valid license from the Government of India for providing Communication Services. Currently, its core membership consists of telecom companies Aircel, Airtel, Idea, Telewings, Videocon, Vodafone and now RJIL. Note the absence of CDMA telecom operators like Sistema Shyam, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices.

Interestingly, the COAI had previously taken a stand against Reliance Jio on certain issues. Back in March last year, the Government had issued a permit allowing 4G spectrum holders to pay an additional Rs 1,658 crore to allow voice calls over their network. Since Reliance was the only company to hold a pan-India 4G permit the decision was not well received at the COAI. The COAI had alleged the company received the license for cheap.

Again, in November last year, the COAI had reportedly stepped in to ask the DoT to allocate RJIL no more than 10 lakh numbers per circle. Reliance had apparently sought for the allotment of 4 crore numbers with which to start its 4G services, something the COAI had strongly opposed.

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COAI also allows non telecom companies on board as Associate Members which includes IBM, Huawei, Intel and Nokia among others. Facebook had also joined the COAI last week as an Associate Member in light of the debate on OTT services paying telecom operators for bandwidth usage. Read our interview with Ankhi Das on why Facebook joined COAI.

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Reliance Jio is currently expecting to launch its 4G services commercially by 2015. The company has already entered into agreements with Reliance Communications, Tower Vision India, Bharti Infratel and Tower Corporation among others to share infrastructure for rolling out its 4G services.

With RJIL on board along with the six other Core members and the twelve associate members, COAI will be able to more comprehensively represent the telecom industry. The members of the organization currently make up for 68% of the subscribers and 71% of the revenue share of the telecom market in India.