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Reliance Jio to delay its commercial roll out till December

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MUMBAI: The onslaught might take a little while before it revs itself for a decimating run in the Indian telecom ecosystem.'The world's most expensive start-up entailing an initial investment of Rs.1.5 trillion - Reliance Jio', as termed by Reliance Industries  chairman Mukesh Ambani who has a revolutionary vision of  digitising the entire country to get its people to use the internet. Reliance Jio 4G services were launched for the employees and privileged personalities in December last year (2015). At that time speculations were rife that the company would roll out its commercial services in early April, though the company did not release any official statement indicating the launch date.

As per information available with Indiantelevision.com, Reliance's 4G services are likely to launch in December 2016. A source close to the development informs, "They are planning the commercial roll out this December. There are many factors which are evolving and the launch will take time. Before the commercial roll-out there will be phases of soft launches in various regions to conduct a test run in each and every region."

Reliance Jio's immediate target will be the premium consumers of other networks. Research says that consumers with spends of Rs 300 per month and above are most vulnerable to poaching by the Jio onslaught. The biggest player in the Indian telecom ecosystem,  Airtel has 89 per cent of its 250 million subscribers that use feature phones or smartphones only for calls and not data. Hence the ring fencing will happen for the 11 per cent of the premium consumers. "Airtel is planning to counter Jio with its own weapons," says a veteran in the telecom industry. He further adds, "Jio will roll out combo plans where voice calls and SMS services will be offered for free or at cheap prices. It will also package 4G services with mobile devices. In the initial stages it will roll out many lucrative offers to poach consumers."

When contacted, the corporate communications team of Reliance Jio refused to offer any comments. "We have not declared any date and hence there is no question of postponements or delays," the team said.

One of the vendors that provides technical assistance to Reliance Jio asserts, "The internal declaration to roll out in December is primarily to ensure maximum reach. Availability and affordability are key factors which the company is not ready to compromise with. Moreover there will be an aggressive marketing plan to back the launch, so overall its a strategic move to wait till December."

Driven by strong adoption of data consumption on handheld devices, the total mobile services market revenue in India is expected to touch US$ 37 billion in 2017, registering a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2 per cent between 2014 and 2017, according to research firm IDC.

According to a Telecom Regulatory of India (TRAI) press release, as of 31 January 2016,India's mobile subscriber base has crossed the one billion mark. A study by GSMA says that smartphones are expected to account for two out of every three mobile connections globally by 2020 making India the fourth largest smartphone market.The broadband services user-base in India is expected to grow to 250 million connections by 2017, says GSMA.

The opportunity is huge, and will benefit the ultimate user, given the poor quality of intermittent 4G data services that are being offered by the players in the market at present.

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