Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Industries (RIL) is starting its 4G service trials in Jamnagar next month before rolling out the service, nationwide, according to a report byDNA. This follows the company’s recent announcement indicating that Nagpur would be one of the major hubs for its 4G operations. It’s been rather long, almost close to two years that the company acquired 4G spectrum. Although, we understand that forging alliances takes time, it’s strange that the company had not commenced service trials till date. Why did the company take so long when it had demoed the service in 2010, at its campus?

In June 2010, Reliance Industries had acquired 95% stake in Infotel Broadband services, after the latter won pan-India BWA spectrum in all 22 circles in the country for Rs 12,847.77 crore. This deal marked the re-entry of Reliance Industries and Chairman Mukesh Ambani into the telecommunications space after it scrapped its non-compete agreement with Reliance ADA Group, headed by his brother Anil Ambani. RIL had later informed that it plans to invest Rs.18,000-20,000 crore to deploy WiMAX, and then graduate services to LTE when the service matures in two years.

In December 2011, a report had suggested that RIL would be offering low cost high-speed broadband services based on a 4G network deployment by the end of 2012.  While the company had stated that the rollout plans were still at a planning stage, it was rumored that RIL will be offering tablets at a subsidized price of Rs 3,500 and bundling data plans for as low as Rs 10 per GB along with it. However, the DNA report suggests that the pricing of these services are expected to be around Rs 1,000-2,000 for 5-10 GB per month.

Prior to these developments, RIL had partnered with RCOM to bundle voice services with its data offerings, with UTV for games, bollywood content and children’s content for its 4G services and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Siemens to offer a networked security services using video and other security applications and a possible integration with large scale city and highway projects for surveillance and law-enforcement.

The DNA report also suggests that RIL wants the reserve price of 4G spectrum to be increased by 7-8 folds than the 3G auction base price, so as to have lesser competition, since it would be pretty difficult for other operators and service providers to participate in the 4G auction with high base prices such as Rs 25,000 crore.

Other 4G developments: Last week, Qualcomm received the ISP license after an 18-month wait, enabling the company to roll out BWA services (4G) in the country. Prior to that, reports had suggested that Bharti Airtel would be kick starting its 4G services in Kolkata on March 20, although there has been no official communication from the company until now.

In October 2011, Augere Wireless had announced that it plans to roll out its LTE services under its ZOOSH brand, across 14 cities in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh this year and had partnered with Ericsson for its 4G/TD- long term evolution plans. On the flip side, state owned BSNL was looking to surrender its BWA spectrum and had got the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)’s nod in December 2011.