4G startup Reliance Jio Infocomm has added another tower company to its growing list of partners, after signing an infrastructure sharing deal with Ascend Telecom Infrastructure to lease access to some 4,500 towers across India, the Economic Times reports. The pact is the newcomer’s sixth such deal, following on the heels of agreements with Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communication (RCOM), Viom Towers, American Tower Corporation (ATC) and Tower Vision. Jio, which is part of the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), plans to lease around 70,000 towers from its various infrastructure partners and construct 30,000 of its own and is aiming to inaugurate voice and data services in Q4 this year. Sanjay Mashruwala Jio’s, managing director commented on the company’s rollout plans: ‘It’s our network coverage footprint that will give customers geographical freedom they need to avail our high speed services.’
Progress on the rollout of Jio’s network has been hampered by difficulties in acquiring right-of-way to install underground fibre-optic cables in some areas of the country, however, an anonymous company official told the Economic Times. Whilst Jio has been able to roll out its network without hindrance in several states of southern India, it has had difficulty acquiring the necessary permissions in some areas, such as Mumbai and Maharashtra.