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It looks like we will have to further wait for Reliance Industries’s data services: Reliance Industries chairman and CEO Mukesh Ambani has informed that they are currently conducting limited field trials for the initial set of its broadband services and will be launching expanded trials for Reliance Jio next month.

These expanded trials would continue through the end of 2014 and early 2015, following which, the company would be launching its data services in a phased manner across India. This was stated by Ambani during the company’s 40th Annual General Meeting today, and was disclosed by RIL new media director Gautam Chikermane on Twitter.

While there is currently no specific information on the initial cities chosen for this service or the company’s 4G rollout plans, these services will apparently cover 5,000 cities and towns and over 2.5 lakh villages in the initial phase and will eventually cover over 6 lakh villages.

Note that Reliance Industries had mentioned in its annual report last month, that they are rolling-out high speed internet services via optical fibre (FTTX) in over 900 cities/towns in the country. The company had also rolled out free Wi-Fi hotspots in eight locations at Ahmedabad and nine locations at Baroda and Surat.

That being said, it’s worth noting that BWA rollout obligations also kicks in by mid-2015, as per which all BWA licensees have 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and at least 50% of the rural short distance changing areas (SDCAs), failing which the BWA spectrum provided will be withdrawn. Airtel is currently the only telco offering 4G services in the country.

Apart from this, Ambani also mentions that they have invested Rs 70,000 crore into this venture and currently employ around 10,000 full time employees, who are apparently working with nearly 30,000 employees from the company’s partners and vendors. In addition to this, Ambani mentions that they are over 100,000 people working across the country to create the “digital infrastructure backbone for this network”.

Earlier this month, former BlackBerry India managing director Sunil Dutt had also joined as the president of Reliance Jio Infocomm. He will reportedly be responsible for developing a portfolio of self-branded handsets which will be manufactured by third party vendors, as well as managing the third party 4G handset portfolio for Reliance Jio.

The company had also signed a tower sharing agreement with Ascend Telecom to use the latter’s telecom tower infrastructure comprising 4,500 towers across the country to launch its 4G services. This was the company’s seventh tower infrastructure sharing partnership in the country after signing similar deals with Tower Vision India last month, ATC India in April this year, Viom Networks and Bharti Infratel in March this year, Reliance Communications (RCOM) in June 2013 and its competitor Bharti Airtel in December 2013.

Last month, Reliance Industries had acquired Network18 and had received board approval to invest up to Rs 4,000 crore for this acquisition and make open offers post the acquisition. (ReadHow Reliance Industries acquired Network18: A detailed timeline of events)

Update:Ambani’s statement on Reliance Jio:

“Dear Shareholders,

I would now like to turn to one of the most transformational initiatives of Reliance. One that India would see evolving over the next few years. This is the pan-India, Fourth Generation Broadband initiative, under the auspices of Reliance Jio. I had shared the vision of this initiative last year – of a digital India – and of the unique opportunity that we have, as Reliance, to maximise the benefits of the digital age for India.

I had also shared with you our plans on building a country-wide broadband next-generation infrastructure.
And digital services that will help contribute significantly to the Indian economy, and help improve the lives of our 1.25 billion countrymen.

Today, let me dwell on the execution of this expansive and all-pervading initiative, whose scale is unprecedented in the annals of Indian business.

At the outset, our confidence in delivering this technology-based infrastructure and services is very high.
Reliance is set to make this vision a reality very soon.

Limited field trials with our initial set of services for the broad band services are already underway. Expanded field trials will commence in August this year across multiple cities.

These trials would continue through the end of 2014 and early part of 2015. The objective is to ensure that everything that we offer is future-proof and world-class. The year 2015 will see the phased launch of Reliance Jio across India.

Millions of customers would have started to use the digital platform and services in their daily lives. The fruits of the tremendous value created by this Rs. 70,000 crore initiative would start to flow. This value creation would be on a base of 1.25 billion Indians, with an opportunity to include all sections of our society in the exciting promise of the digital economy.

Engaged in this massive endeavour are over 10,000 full time Jio employees are working alongside nearly 30,000 professionals from our partners and vendors from all parts of the world.

In addition, there are over 100,000 people working across the country in creating the digital infrastructure backbone for this network.

They are passionate about building the largest broadband network that the world has ever seen. Reliance Jio will be one of the largest job-creating and wealth-creating business initiatives in India. The network and broadband services will be ubiquitous – initially covering all states, all the 5000 towns and cities
accounting for over 90% of urban India and over 215,000 villages in India. Eventually, the network will encompass each of our over 600,000 villages.

All these efforts would help India become a leader in the digital era. They would ensure that every Indian has acess to state-of-the-art digital connectivity and services that are on par with or better than anywhere else in the world.

Dear Shareowners,

Our vision and goals for this business are overarching.

Besides providing the base broadband connectivity to all citizens, the digital infrastructure and digital services have the potential to add significantly to India’s GDP growth.

Millions of new entrepreneurs and jobs can be expected to spring up in secondary and tertiary sectors in new and innovative digital enterprises and services. The boundaries of these start-ups and services are only limited by our imagination.

Indian enterprises would be able to run more efficiently and become more globally competitive. They would be able to do transactions quicker, access information faster and, in turn, provide faster service to their
customers.

Our aim is to make every critical information available to all citizens at the touch of a button. Reliance Jio is the future that Reliance is building for the generations to follow. They deserve to be on par with the best in the world – whether in education or health care or security for their families.

The acquisition through an Open Offer of Network 18 Media & Investments Limited and its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Limited by Independent Media Trust, the sole beneficiary of which is Reliance Industries Limited, is one aspect of the digital services play.

This will differentiate and strengthen our 4G business at the unique intersects of telecom, web and digital commerce, and the media through a suite of premier digital properties.

Reliance Jio will leverage on the emerging data explosion concurrent with the large volume and criticality of data traffic and data-driven applications for individuals, governments, businesses and enterprises of all hues, in urban and rural areas.

Reliance is committed, with your support, to make the compelling vision of Jio happen

And create a new opportunity domain for India’s information infrastructure, digital services, social development, entrepreneurship and economic growth.”

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