Reliance Jio, whose commercial launch has been inordinately delayed, has denied any technical glitches behind the hold-up and said network optimisation is taking time as it wants to ensure a seamless and foolproof rollout with a couple of million users.
At the last AGM, company Chairman Mukesh Ambani had said the commercial launch would happen by December, which was then postponed to March.
The telecom venture of RIL, however, launched services for its employees late December and later extended them to their families and friends, taking the overall consumer base to a little over five lakh.
Asked about the delays in commercial launch, Reliance Jio’s Strategy and Planning head Anshuman Thakur said, “There is no reason for the delay. It’s first time that the LTE technology is being tested on such a large scale anywhere in the world.
Network optimisation keeping launch at bay
“As it needs a lot of optimisation, which will lead to some disturbances in services, we want to ensure that once commercially launched the service is seamless. In fact the only delay is network optimisation. Also, we want to have a larger user-base of say a couple of millions at least (up from the present 0.5 million) to do the rollout.” But he parried a query on what is preventing them from ramping up the user-base.
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As against the national average of 150 mb data usage, for Jio customers, who are getting free service now, it is 18 GB and the highest usage come from states like Assam and Jharkhand, Thakur told reporters. The average voice usage is over 250 minutes within the first month of test-rollout.
In a statement earlier in the day, Ambani, without proffering a timeline, said, “Jio will launch commercial operations in the coming months and it is test-programme has established smooth operations of all aspects of the network over half a million users. The initial feedback is very encouraging and has established smooth operations of all aspects of the network.”
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RIL Group Deputy CFO V Srikanth said the parent RIL will be investing over Rs 60,000 crore in capex in Jio this fiscal, an amount which is over Rs 1 trillion it has pumped in since bagging licence in 2010. At the Group level, the capex will be higher by Rs 30,000 crore at Rs 1.5 trillion.
The company has an equity capital of Rs 45,000 crore while the debt component is around Rs 33,000 crore.
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On the number of LYF branded mobile handsets, he said they have already sold over 1.5 million units since November.
Asked whether Rel Jio will be bidding for the spectrum auctions in July, Thakur said the company is yet to take a call.