Reliance Communications (RCOM) is launching pan-India 4G services today, while telecom circles including Mumbai, Maharashtra have already got 4G presence, as per information provided on RCOM’s official website. The website earlier ran a teaser suggesting that 4G services will be launching by 9.30 AM (IST) today; this was first spotted by TelecomTalk.
Customers looking to upgrade their postpaid connections will have to send a one-time SMS for approval; prepaid users will first need to purchase a 4G SIM card from a Reliance Store or a retailer. Datacard users will have to fill out an online form for their 4G upgrade, more on this here.
Tariffs: RCOM’s website mentions 4G plans in Maharashtra, Mumbai and AP circles will cost anywhere between Rs 98 for 1GB data (valid for 2 days) to Rs 1857 for10 GB data (valid for 28 days) for prepaid users. Postpaid users have monthly data packs costing Rs 250 per month for 1GB of data, the costliest plan is Rs 1500 for 10GB of data a month.
CDMA to 4G migration
RCOM initiated CDMA to 4G migration by notifying customers in early April. At that time the company said it would shut down CDMA services in all of its telecom circles starting June except in 4 circles of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, In these 4 circles, RCOM will migrate its CDMA subscribers onto its GSM network. However, we are not sure if these circles will be covered in today’s launch or whether the 4 circles will get a delayed 4G launch. MediaNama has written to the company for clarifications and will update the story once they respond.
During the company’s Q4 FY16 earnings call, RCOM’s CEO (consumer business) Gurdeep Singh said that CDMA migration will be carried out in phases, circle-by-circle and that they hope to conclude the process in the next two months, i.e., end-July. For this, RCOM will free up existing spectrum subjected to regulatory approvals.
Reliance is carrying out the liberalization process in two phases:
In phase I, 68.75 MHz of spectrum was liberalized across 16 circles for a total sum of Rs 5384 crore. The letter was issued by DoT confirming this on April 7, 2016. The liberalization is effective from January 20, 2016. In phase II, 18.75 MHz of spectrum will be liberalized across 4 circles for a total sum of Rs 1243 crore.
RCOM spectrum-sharing deals and mergers
-RCOM and Rjio spectrum sharing: RCOM and Reliance Jio had signed a deal in January 2016, to share 4G bandwidth in 17 circles using the 800MHz band. Additionally, Reliance Jio wanted to buy spectrum from RCOM in 9 circles for its impending 4G LTE roll out. The DoT had approved deal in April.
-RCOM-Aircel wireless business merger: Last week, RCOM, which earlier was in talks to merge its wireless business with Aircel, said that it would sign mandatory documents and send it for regularity approval, in a BSE filing. Both RCOM and Aircel had originally entered into talks in December last year.
-Sistema deal awaiting court and DoT approvals: Shareholders of Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), which owns the MTS brand in India, approved the merger of the company with RCOM, in April this year. They’re currently awaiting further approval from the Rajasthan and Bombay High Court, after which RCOM is expected to approach the DoT with further filings.