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AT&T Planning To Acquire 26% Stake in Reliance Jio Infocomm: Report


AT&T, the largest telecom company in the United States, is looking to pick up 25% stake in Reliance Jio Infocomm (previously Reliance Infocomm Infotel) for $3.5 billion (Around Rs 18,991 crore), reports The Times Of India.

While the report hasn’t disclosed any specific details on this partnership, it mentions that RIL is planning to spend around $10 billion on its telecom services, of which the company has already spent $4 billion on securing requisite licenses and setting up infrastructure. RIL has however apparently declined to comment on this partnership to the publication.

This development follows a similar Voice&Data report in October 2012, which had suggested that Reliance Infotel was in talks with AT&T to offload 26% stake for Rs 19,000 crore and the deal was in advanced stages. Through this deal, RIL was planning to leverage AT&T’s expertise in rolling out LTE networks in the United States to roll out its own service in the country.

RIL 4G Launch: Interestingly, the report also cites sources which inform that RIL is planning to launch its 4G service on December 28, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Reliance Industries founder Dhirubhai Ambani and will be rolling out the service in a phased manner, starting with Delhi and Mumbai later in the year, followed by 69 Indian cities in 2014 and over 800 Indian cities by early 2015.

AT&T Re-Entry: If the report turns out to be true, this partnership will also mark the re-entry of AT&T into the Indian market. AT&T previously held around one-third equity in Idea Cellular (previously known as Birla-AT&T-Tata joint venture), however the company had sold its 32.9% stake in the joint venture to Birla and Tata in 2004.

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It was also reported that AT&T was looking to pick up a minority stake in the state owned telco BSNL in 2009, although Kuldeep Goyal, BSNL’s then MD and CEO had denied this development.

A few recent developments related to Jio’s launch:

March 7, 2013: RIL had apparently inked a tie-up with Samsung to make use of Samsung’s LTE technology for its 4G service in India. As part of the partnership, Samsung was also reportedly planning to offer 4G-compatible entry-level smartphones for around $100 (Approx Rs 5,500) and these smartphones were expected to be bundled with RIL’s 4G data plans starting at Rs 100.

Feb 22, 2013: An RIL group firm Reliance Payment Services was apparently one among the companies shortlisted by public sector banks to manage and deploy at least 2 million Point-of-sale (POS) debit and credit card swipe machines across merchants in smaller towns over the next two years.

Feb 7, 2013: Reliance Jio Infocomm (Previously Reliance Infotel) is planning to launch a multi-screen video ad network.

December 21, 2012: Reliance Industries was all set to receive Department of Telecommunication (DoT)’s approval to test voice services on its 4G networks. In Feb 19, the Telecom Commission had approved a recommendation which allowed the Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum holders.

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