Reliance Jio is not planning a big bang, all-at-once launch of its 4G commercial service, but will introduce it to the public in stages starting as early as the end of this month, a mid-level executive with the company revealed.
“We’ve been told to work for a limited launch this month,” said the marketing executive.
It should be kept in mind that the target may have been given to mid-level managers for motivating them and may not be a final one.
Another source, a distributor, has indicated that the launch will happen in February, or at most, by Mar 1. But he was talking about open sale of SIM cards, not a limited launch.
Feedback from the ground indicates a staggered roll out of Jio’s 4G service to the public, starting sometime next month.
Meanwhile, the company did not start sales of its handsets under the LYF brand on 14th, as was reported by a publication. The company executive mentioned above said sales of LYF handsets should start next week.
He also denied rumors that the handsets will come with Reliance Jio SIM cards built-in.
“The handsets do not need our SIM cards to work. They work with any operator,” he said, but did not deny the possibility that those buying the handsets may get access to the network ahead of others.
Many executives of the company are yet to get the 4 or 5 extra SIM cards that they were promised for their friends and family, for testing the network. The company is supposed to hand over 4-5 lakh SIMs to its distributors, partners and group employees for testing.
Meanwhile, pressure has been growing on the operator to launch commercially soon.
However, due to the limited nature of its 4G network, RJio has to ensure that if and when a subscriber starts a call on its 4G network and travels into an area where the company doesn’t have a 4G network, the call can be handed over to a 2G or 3G network successfully.
This is slightly challenging as the company uses a packet-switched connection on its network, but its partner network uses the older ‘circuit switched’ connection.
The company is also reportedly mounting lower frequency antennas on its base stations in some areas.
Its initial roll-out was done on high frequency bands (1800 MHz and 2300 MHz), but it is learnt to have agreed to buy some low frequency (800 MHz) spectrum from Reliance Communications in coming days and create a joint LTE network with the Anil Ambani firm.
While the electronic components of the base station will work across frequencies, sub-1 GHz frequencies will reportedly need different antennas.
The deal with RCom is expected to solve nearly all connectivity and coverage related issues for the new operator as an 800 MHz base station is supposed to be able to cover nearly twice the area compared to an 1800 cell.
The RCom-Jio combination will be the only one in India to offer their 4G service on low-frequency bands unless the government auctions 700 MHz spectrum. Jio has opposed the auction of 700 MHz airwaves this year.