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What’s Being Said About RIL Jio Infocomm – All Updates

There’s much being said about Reliance Industries’ launch of 4G data services, apparently being launched as Reliance “Jio” Infocomm. The company’s executives have been unwilling to confirm anything so far, so many reports (including ours) are source based. This post serves as a compilation of all that is being said and reported on MediaNama, as well as around the web, on the Reliance 4G launch. Want to tell us what’s missing, or if there’s an update: ping vikas@medianama.com

August 6, 2013: Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) apparently had talks with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) for the proposed rollout of 4G services in Kolkata, reports FirstPost. Reliance Jio business head & state mentor (East) Tarun Jhunjhunwala said the project is valued at Rs 3,000 crore and they would be starting the project work soon, after receiving the requisite permissions. The work is expected to complete by Q1 2014.

The report also mentions that RJIL has apparently received an approval from Department of Telecommunications (DoT), to test the SMS feature on its 4G LTE platform.

July 16, 2013: Reliance Jio Infocomm has apparently secured a six month extension to test voice over LTE (VoLTE) service, reports Telecom Lead. The company had previously got around 10,000 mobile numbers for testing 4G services whose permit is reportedly expiring today (July 16, 2013).

July 3, 2013: Reliance Industries’s deal with Samsung has apparently fell through over pricing issues, reports The Economic Times citing sources involved in these negotiations. The report says that Reliance Jio Infocomm wanted the handsets to be priced at Rs 5,500 per handset while Samsung is refusing to go below Rs 8,500 per handset along with a commitment of RIL purchasing 3 million handsets from them. Without the commitment, Samsung has apparently priced the handset at Rs 11,000 per handset. Samsung has declined to comment on this development to ET while RIL hasn’t apparently responded to the publication.

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June 18, 2013: Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) is apparently in talks with Huawei to make use of Huawei’s 4G devices, reports Light Reading India citing Huawei Devices India president Victor Shan. Shan told that RJIL is currently testing Huawei’s 4G LTE smartphones and dongles as part of its ongoing pilot project in Mumbai.

June 17, 2013: RIL has apparently partnered with Alcatel Lucent, Samsung and Ericsson for its 4G rollout, reports Light Reading India report citing industry sources.

June 7, 2013: RIL has inked a Rs 12,000 crore telecom tower sharing agreement with RCOM to make use of RCOM’s 45,000 ground and rooftop based towers for its 4G service.

June 7, 2013: RIL has apparently postponed its 4G service rollout to 2014, according to a Times Of India report. Citing sources, the report says that the delay was caused due a change in the company’s strategy, in which it plans to own everything including the 4G network, equipments used and allied infrastructures.

A senior RIL executive apparently told the publication that they plan to roll out high speed voice and data services before the roll out obligations ends, as per the BWA license agreement.

June 6, 2013: During RIL’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, Mukesh Ambani informed that they have increased the Reliance Jio team to 3,000 professional nationwide, up from 700 professionals in Navi Mumbai campus last year and they plan to increase it to 10,000 professionals nationwide by next year. The company also plans to make an investment of Rs 1.5 trillion over the next three years across different industries including its 4G division and other divisions like petrochemicals and retail among others.

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May 23, 2013: Reliance Jio business head & state mentor (East) Tarun Jhunjhunwala has informed that RIL is looking to roll out its 4G services in all the metro cities by March 2014, reports Business Standard. He also said that the company plans to invest Rs 3,000 crore in rolling out 4G services in West Bengal and another Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 crore in rolling out 4G services in other eastern and northeastern states. A similar Times Of India report however indicated that RIL will be rolling out 4G service in Delhi and Mumbai by the end of this year and extending the service to West Bengal by March 2014. Jhunjhunwala said that RIL plans to setup around 3,500 towers across 56 towns in West Bengal, of which 25% of the infrastructure will be from its RCOM partnership.

May 21, 2013: RIL chairman and CEO Mukesh Ambani has said in Reliance Industries’ Annual Report for FY13 that they believe India has a unique opportunity to surpass the world and become a leader in delivery of digital content. He also claimed that RJIL has finalised key agreements with its technology partners, service providers, infrastructure providers, application partners, device manufacturers and other strategic partners for the 4G project and it has completed the detailed planning for a pan-India implementation of the infrastructure needed for the project.

Interestingly, RIL has also listed four associate companies or joint ventures under Jio brand – Reliance Jio Private Limited, Reliance Jio Cloudworks Private Limited, Reliance Jio Electronics Private Limited and Reliance Jio Media Private Limited. It has 50% stake in all these companies. More on the RIL annual report here.

April 30, 2013: Reliance Jio Infocomm has signed an agreement to form a consortium of International telcos who will be responsible for building and managing the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) submarine cable system. This consortium includes telcos like Malaysia’s Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), UK’s Vodafone group, Oman’s Omantel, UAE’s Etisalat and Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata. RIL informed that this BBG submarine cable system will span across 8,000 km and will connect Malaysia and Singapore to Oman and United Arab Emirates, through India (Mumbai & Chennai) and Sri Lanka.

April 30, 2013: Bharti Infratel is planning to talk to Reliance Industries for a potential tower lease agreement, reports Reuters, citing Bharti Infratel vice-chairman Akhil Gupta.

April 23, 2013: Reliance Jio Infocomm has inked a international data connectivity agreement with Bharti Airtel. The company informed that this deal will allow them to connect to the world’s major business hubs and ISPs. We believe this deal would be crucial for Jio Infocomm since a majority of the Internet bandwidth consumption in India originates outside of India.

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April 19, 2013: Department of Telecom (DoT) has reportedly assigned around 10,000 mobile numbers for testing 4G services, reports The Economic Times. The report states that RIL has been assigned 4,000 numbers in Delhi, 4,000 numbers in Mumbai and 2,000 numbers in Jamnagar on a non-chargeable basis.

April 8, 2013: Reliance Industries (RIL) has reportedly appointed Sanjay Mashruwala as the Managing Director of Reliance Jio Infocomm. Prior to this appointment, Mashruwala was serving as the president of RIL’s petrochemical division. He had also reportedly played a key role in rolling out an optical fibre cable network across the country, when Reliance Infocomm had launched its mobile services in India about a decade ago.

It was also indicated that Reliance Jio Infocomm will be offering two types of services – a wireless mobility service and a Google Fiber-like high speed broadband service along with television and other services.

April 8, 2013: Reliance Jio Infocomm is apparently inking a telecom tower sharing agreement with Reliance Communications, reports The Times Of India.

April 4, 2013: Global investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs has apparently said that RIL is planning to roll out its 4G service in December 2013, as per a PTI report (via The Economic Times). The firm has also reportedly said that the RIL-RCOM deal might get extended to spectrum sharing as well, once the new license norms are finalized.

April 2, 2013: After months of speculation, Reliance Jio Infocomm had inked a Rs 1,200 crore agreement with Reliance Communications (RCOM) for sharing RCOM’s nationwide inter-city fibre optic network infrastructure. The company said that it will be utilizing multiple fiber pairs across RCOM’s 1,20,000 KM inter-city fiber optic network to provide 4G services in the country. In return, RCOM will get reciprocal access to the optic fiber infrastructure being built by RIL. RIL had informed that this is the first such agreement between them and RCOM to make use of existing and future infrastructure of both the companies on a reciprocal basis.

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March 28, 2013: Milind Deora, Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, has informed Lok Sabha that each BWA Licensee has rollout obligations depending on the service area license.

As per these obligations, Licensees should provide street level coverage in at least 90% of the metro service areas within five years of the effective date, failing which the BWA spectrum provided will be withdrawn.

Licensees should also ensure coverage in at least 50% of the rural short distance changing areas (SDCAs). The minister noted that a rural SDCA is considered covered, if the licensee provides street level coverage in at least 90% of the area bounded by municipal/ local body limit. This essentially means that RIL and other BWA licensees have around two more years to meet these obligations.

March 20, 2013: Maxis Communications CEO Sandip Das is joining Reliance Industries as the head of its 4G venture, according to a The Economic Times report. Citing two sources with direct knowledge on this development, the report states that Das will be working with Manoj Modi, who is apparently leading RIL’s 4G rollout in the country. RIL has however declined to comment on this appointment to the publication.

Das had joined Maxis in January 2007 and was appointed as the company’s CEO in October 2009. His tenure as the CEO was expected (pdf) to end on June 30, 2013 but the company said that Das had requested an early release from his contract, which was accepted by the company’s board and Das was planning to step down as the company’s CEO on April 15, 2013.

Prior to the Maxis appointment, Das had worked at Vodafone Essar Limited, India (erstwhile Hutchison Essar Limited) as its deputy managing director and was one of the members responsible for setting up the company’s operations in India in 1994. He’s also had stints at Al-Futtaim Motors and Sriram Group’s Usha International.

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March 11, 2013: AT&T is apparently planning to pick up 25% stake in Reliance Jio Infocomm (previously Reliance Infocomm) for $3.5 billion (Around Rs 18,991 crore). It was also reported that RIL is looking to launch its 4G service on December 28, 2013 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.

March 8, 2013: The Indian Government has dismissed allegations that it has offered undue benefits to RIL by allowing 4G spectrum holders to offer voice services by paying an additional Rs 1,658 crore for the license, according to a The Economic Times report. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said that this decision was taken based on the recommendation of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Telecom Commission.

This development follows allegations from Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) earlier this week, which claimed that the telecom department had proposed these policy changes to give undue benefits to RIL and the unified license regime should not be used to provide a backdoor entry for BWA players to offer voice services.

According to a separate ET report, Mukesh Ambani has also reportedly sent a letter to the Telecom Secretary, alleging that COAI is working for selfish and short term motives of its member operators and pointed out that COAI had previously supported government’s plans to allow BWA players to offer voice services for Rs 1,658 crore. Ambani has also reportedly said in the letter that operators should compete with RIL in the open market instead of delving into such practices.

March 7, 2013: RIL has apparently partnered with Samsung to make use of Samsung’s LTE technology for its 4G service in India. As part of this agreement, Samsung will reportedly offer 4G-compatible entry-level smartphones for around $100 (Approx Rs 5,500), which will 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.

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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

December 19, 2012: Reliance Industries had inked a deal with Moscow-based Spirit DSP to license Spirit’s TeamSpirit Video and Voice engine to RIL subsidiary Jio Infocomm (previously Infotel) to provide Skype-like video and voice calling services (VVoIP) to its subscribers.

December 3, 2012: Reliance Industries (RIL) was reportedly planning to roll out its much awaited 4G service in Mumbai and Delhi in mid 2013. The company had inked contracts with Ericsson and Samsung to build the network, IBM for IT integration and Microsoft for security solutions. RIL was also planning to launch MiFi devices and inked contract with Ericsson to set up around 30,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across commercial buildings, offices and malls in Mumbai and Delhi.

November 9, 2012:  Ajit Nazre, a former partner with the venture fund Kliener Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB), and Arvind Rao, former CEO of mobile VAS company OnMobile Global, had joined Reliance Industries in an advisory capacity for the company’s 4G rollout. While both Nazre and Rao had separately confirmed this development to MediaNama, they had declined to comment on the exact nature of their roles.

July 19, 2012: State owned telecom operator, BSNL had reportedly signed an agreement with Reliance Industries (RIL) subsidiary Infotel Broadband to share its 24,000 towers.

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June 8, 2012: A Senior RIL official had said during its annual general body meeting that it was launching its 4G operations all by itself. This was contrary to earlier reports of RIL partnering RCOM for its 4G rollout, its towers and pan-India fibre optic network. The official had also stated that it plans to launch self-branded mobile handsets.

May 29, 2012: A Reliance Industries (RIL) led consortium had apparently secured an internal security deal worth Rs 1,000 crore, for installing CCTV cameras at all major traffic junctions in Mumbai.

March 26, 2012: RIL had reportedly started its 4G service trials in Jamnagar in April 2012.

January 16, 2012: Reliance Industries was reportedly in talks with major cable operators, including MSOs (Multi-System Operators) such as Hathway, Den, Digicable and InCable to pick up a minimum 26% stake in these companies.

January 3, 2012:  Network18 divests a part of its stake in ETV channels to TV18 Broadcast, to secure preferential access to Network18’s content from all its media and web properties and TV18’s programming and digital content of all its broadcasting channels.

December 6, 2011: RIL was reportedly planning to offer tablets at a subsidized price of Rs 3,500 with bundled 4G data plans starting at Rs 10 per GB.

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November 9, 2011: Infotel had acquired 38.5% stake in Extramarks Education, a provider of digital delivery of education related services.

October 10, 2011: RIL was reportedly planning to ink a joint venture with Disney’s UTV to offer content like games, Bollywood content and children’s content among others.

September 20, 2011: RIL through its subsidiary company, Reliance Security Solutions, had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Siemens for homeland security solutions which will leverage its 4G network. Through this deal, RIL was planning to offer networked security services using video and other security applications, and was eyeing an integration with large scale city and highway projects for surveillance and law-enforcement.

May 23, 2011: US based banking and financial products company American Express was reportedly in talks with RIL to launch a joint venture in India that will offer financial services, including a payment gateway.

November 30, 2010: RIL conducts a field trial of its 4G service at its campus.

June 11, 2010: RIL had acquired 95% stake in Infotel Broadband services, after it secured pan-India BWA Spectrum for Rs 12,847.7 crore during the 2010 BWA Auctions.

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