Mobile tower

Ambani-owned telco Reliance Jio (RJIO) has signed an Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) deal with the Government-owned telco body BSNL, the company confirmed to MediaNama. According to an ET report, the ICR deal will be applicable across 22 circles; BSNL will be charging 25 paise per minute for voice roaming, 25 paise per megabyte for data and 5 paise per SMS under the ICR deal.

Once the technical ICR arrangements are completed between RJIO and BSNL, Jio users will be able to use BSNL’s network while roaming within their designated circle. Therefore, RJIO will have to share the above-mentioned rates with BSNL, for every roaming call, SMS, or data utilized on BSNL’s network. The report added that BSNL is expecting to generate Rs 300-400 crore a year through more ICR deals from the next financial year.

More ICR deals from BSNL: In August 2015, Bharti Airtel was in talks with BSNL for sharing spectrum through an ICR arrangement. Other operators including Vodafone and Idea Cellular were also expected to line up to get a deal with the BSNL. Similarly, in this month, Bharti Airtel was reportedly in talks with BSNL again for finalizing a spectrum sharing deal in four circles including Rajasthan, UP (West), Bihar and Assam. In January, BSNL was also reportedly in final stages to complete another ICR deal with Aircel.

RCOM & RJIO spectrum sharing deal: In January, Reliance Communications (RCOM) and Reliance Jio entered into a strategic partnership to share spectrum to provide LTE services. RCOM and RJIO have signed agreements in spectrum allotment in 800 MHz band across 9 Circles from RCOM to Reliance Jio. The companies also agreed to share spectrum in 800 MHz band across 17 Circles.

Reliance Jio launch: After launching its 4G services for employees only on the 27th of December, Reliance Jio  said it will be launching its 4G offerings commercially starting March 2016. Overall, RJIO currently claims to have given out 70,000 4G mobile connections to its employees for testing ahead of the commercial launch.

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BSNL plans to test 50 zero-base towers in the country

A PTI report states that BSNL plans to install around 50 ‘zero-base’ multifunctional towers across the country; Zero-base towers can accommodate enough space to be used as Wi-Fi hotspot, a streetlight, and a surveillance utility by installing cameras and radios in it. After securing a deal from the tower-manufacturers abroad, BSNL will first install 50 towers as a pilot project; it also plans to share the cost of securing these towers among other operators in the country.

An August 2015 report stated that BSNL had secured permission from the union cabinet to hive off its tower assets to form a separate company. The towers company was valued at Rs 20,000 crore and BSNL will also need to pay the new company money to rent the towers. BSNL currently claims to have 75,000 towers, out of which around 65,000 will be moved to the new company.

Image credit: Flickr user hopeless128 under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Corrigendum: An earlier version of this article referred to inter-circle roaming as intra-circle roaming. The error is regretted. Thanks for pointing this out in the comments Pranav.