Reliance Industries, which is planning to roll out high-speed broadband services, is set to intensify competition in the low-margin telecom space as with a bouquet of services under the 4G platform at drastically lower prices, according to sources.
"Our services will not be confined to only data and voice but there will be a bouquet of services catering to everyone's need ranging from telephony to social media," the sources told reporters on the sidelines of the company's 39th annual general meeting in Mumbai.
According to a report in DNA, Mukesh Ambani will offer ultra-futuristic 4G services at “one-hundredth of current cost." Reading in between the lines, if a 3G video call currently costs Rs 6 per minute, RIL can offer it at 6 paise per minute. At present, Bharti Airtel offers 4G services in Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Pune. It charges Rs 950 per month for downloading 6 GB of data. Its data card (4G LTE USB modem) is priced Rs 5,000.
Apart from 4G handsets, SIM cards, chipsets and dongles, another plan on the cards is to launch a 4G Wi-Fi card the size of a visiting card, which becomes a personal wi-fi hotspot. (These would create hotspots to connect various devices on high-speed data.)
"With this card, one doesn’t need a 3G or 4G-enabled handset to access internet, nor switch the operator to avail of RIL’s 4G services," the report added.
The company has already invested Rs 18,000 crore in the telecom venture called Reliance Jio, most of which has gone into buying spectrum. Once the services are introduced, the pricing would go down to almost 1 percent against the current levels because of host of offerings, they claimed.
However, consumers may have to wait another year to enjoy such high speed data and voice services at a fraction of the existing cost as Reliance Jio is expected to be launched only next year.
"The delay in roll-out is because of RIL's shift from an "asset light fight" to "asset heavy strategy", where it intends to own everything from network to equipments to allied infrastructures, a Times of India report said today, quoting company sources.
Reliance Jio, formerly Infotel Broadband, holds pan-India wireless broadband spectrum which it acquired through auction in 2010. RIL later acquired Infotel Broadband and renamed it as Reliance Jio Infocomm. The company is working with several telecom operators for these services, they said, adding, "the infra control, however, will remain with the company as we are putting up a unique infra in place."
As part of the service rollout, RIL will set up hubs in different geographies to support its broadband network, sources said, adding part of the 10,000-strong team will be deployed in these centres.
From less than 700 professionals a year back, most of them based in company's Navi Mumbai campus, the Reliance Jio team has grown rapidly to over 3,000 professionals today. It plans to take this headcount to 10,000 by next year.
Addressing the shareholders yesterday, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani said in the coming years, Reliance Jio's next-generation digital infra and services platform will catalyse a transformation and will embrace almost every facet of the nation's economic growth and social progress.
With PTI inputs
Disclosure: The Reliance Group has funded the promoter of Network18, which publishes Firstpost