Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani has said that the Indian group will have invested INR1.5 trillion (USD22.62 billion) in its mobile start up, Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL), by the time it launches and claims that the operator will offer mobile broadband speeds up to 80 times faster than its rivals. The Economic Times quotes the official as saying: ‘Jio would start services with 70% coverage of India from day one,’ adding that it would cover more than 90% of the population by 2017. Mr Ambani remained vague regarding the cellco’s commercial launch schedule, however, amidst speculation that the operator may be forced to push back its long-delayed launch to December this year. A soft-launch is anticipated in April, with a full commercial launch not expected until December 2016, due to potential complications securing 800MHz band spectrum from Reliance Communications (RCOM).
Long heralded as a disruptive force in India’s mobile sector with its threats of launching cheap 4G services with nationwide coverage, RJIL’s persistent delays have allowed incumbent cellcos to shore up their operations, reducing much of its potential impact on the crowded sector. As previously noted by CommsUpdate, RJIL had aimed for a September 2014 launch, but this was subsequently delayed to April-June 2015, then December 2015, April 2016 and is now expected to be postponed until December 2016 – although it did activate its network for employees only in December 2015. Making use of the extra time, incumbents Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have upped their investment in 4G, accelerating their rollouts, whilst inching down mobile data prices across the board.