After many delays and hurdles, the deployment of 4G TD-LTE services by Reliance Jio seems to have picked up a rapid pace. Reliance Jio has already made 32,000 Base Station Towers (BSTs) live across the country, and has also placed a bulk order for 4G equipments from an Israeli company – Airspan.
Reliance Jio has partnered up with Samsung and Nokia Networks for providing mainstream telecom equipments, but this deal with Airspan is for buying low-powered short-range towers called as Small Cell Wireless Emitting Points.
RJIL (Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.) has also acquired stake in Airspan hinting towards long-term relationships.
Credit Suisse, a brokerage firm, revealed that RJIL has installed 32,000 LTE BSTs till now. Reliance Jio also hopes to have a total of 1 lakh sites including small cells by the end of year. A soft launch for the 4G services is expected by December.
Credit Suisse also revealed that RJIL has picked up a lot of pace for deploying the infrastructure. previously it was deploying about 3,500 BSTs, and now it is installing 6,500 to 7,000 towers per month.
A company vendor mentioned that unlike earlier, RJIL is now paying up for quicker order delivery and deployment.
The LTE BSTs are capable of offering both TDD and FDD services, but the current antennae only support 2300 MHz TD-LTE services. The FDD support will most likely help Reliance Jio for offering 4G services with voice support.
Credit Suisse also mentions that the decreasing price of LTE handsets due to newer technology is a very good news for the 4G operator. Reliance Jio will now have to worry about only the quality of service and not about the cost of 4G equipments. It also believes that sub $100 smartphones will soon become a reality and would soon end the woes of the 4G operators in India.
In another news, Reliance Jio has again handed out the contract for yet another 50,000-70,000 LTE BST contract to Samsung. It has previously alloted Samsung to a project to install 60,000 LTE Base Station Towers in country. It has been revealed that most of these BST will run on 1800 MHz which is expected to be base of RJIL’s voice network.
The launch of Reliance Jio 4G TD-LTE seems to be very near. It should launch its full-fledged 4G services by mid-2015.
The initial launch will cover about 5,000 towns and cities, and 2,15,000 villages.
The target would be to gradually cover 6,00,000 villages across rural India.
With the declining price of smartphones and the expected influx of cheap LTE smartphones, the 4G market in India is hoping to expand like a wildfire.