Reliance Jio Viom Networks

Reliance Industries’ will-we-ever-see-it data services venture Reliance Jio Infocomm has inked a tower infrastructure sharing pact with Viom Networks, a joint venture between Tata Teleservices and SREI Infrastructure.

As per the master services agreement, Reliance Jio will be using Viom Networks’ pan India passive telecom infrastructure comprising of over 42,000 telecom towers. The deal period or the financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

This is Reliance Jio’s fourth tower infrastructure sharing partnership in the country. Prior to this, it had signed a tower sharing deal worth Rs 12,000 crore with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications (RCOM) in June 2013. As part of this deal, Reliance Jio Infocomm leased 45,000 ground and rooftop based towers for its 4G services and stated plans to create joint working arrangements with RCOM to configure additional towers to be built at new locations.

Earlier this month, Reliance Jio had signed a similar tower sharing infrastructure agreement with Bharti Infratel, allowing Jio to utilize Infratel’s tower infrastructure across the country, with the pricing at ‘arm’s length’ based on prevailing market rates. It had also tied up with its competitor Bharti Airtel to share optic fibre, submarine cable networks, towers and Internet broadband services in December 2013. The company had then said this agreement was done to avoid duplication of infrastructure and it could be further extended to roaming on 2G, 3G and 4G services in the future.

Jio had earlier partnered Airtel for international data connectivity. It also has a tie-up with RCOM for sharing its nationwide inter-city fibre optic network infrastructure and is in negotiations with RCOM for an intra-city cable sharing agreement. Besides this, Reliance Jio had joined a consortium to set up a submarine cable system via the Bay of Bengal in April last year.

The company holds a pan-India Unified License and had secured 78.8 MHz spectrum in 1800 MHz band in 14 circles for Rs 11054.41 crore in the recently concluded spectrum auctions. It had mentioned plans of using the spectrum acquired in 1800MHz band along with its pan-India 2300MHz spectrum to address the expected increase in demand for digital services and improve its in-building coverage. It plans to offer digital services across various sectors like education, healthcare, security, financial services, government citizen interfaces and entertainment.

However, the service is yet to launch commercially in India, with just about an year to go before the BWA rollout obligations kicks in. These rollout obligations mandate all BWA licensees to provide street level coverage in at least 90% of the metro service areas and at least 50% of the rural short distance changing areas (SDCAs) by mid-2015 (five years of the effective date), failing which the BWA spectrum provided will be withdrawn by the government.

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