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Reliance Communications to switch off CDMA in 17 circles soon

RCOM-4G

Reliance Communications said it will switch off CDMA in most of its circles in June, and in some of the circles, as early as today.

Except for four circles — Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka — RCom has set the ball in motion to migrate its CDMA subscribers on to its GSM network.

The company said it was “over enthused” by the response from its CDMA customers, who it said were keen on the migration.

“The process is going on very very smoothly and we are very enthused,” officials said today after giving an update about the company’s quarterly performance.

They said their top priority was to ensure that the most profitable customers — who generate big bills by using a lot of data or voice — are retained as part of the migration. RCom has been offering a 70% discount on 4G dongle prices to its most lucrative customers as part of the migration.

Those subscribers who do not want to remain with RCom can opt for any other operator by relying on mobile number portability, company officials said.

COMPLAINTS

On complaints about switch off of the CDMA network, RCom said its license requires the company to inform its subscribers thirty days in advance before it switches off its network or migrates to a new technology.

RCom said it informed its subscribers in early April, and since the complete shut down of CDMA in 17 circles will happen only by end of June in most places, many subscribers have got 60 days of advance notice.

REMAINING CIRCLES

RCom said in the remaining 4 circles — Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu — it will start the process of moving subscribers from CDMA to 4G today. Approval for the same was received on May 3, and the company has paid Rs 1,243 cr and furnished a bank guarantee of Rs 430 cr to the DoT, it said.

By end of day today, RCom said it expects to get the liberalization order from the Department of Telecom converting its CDMA spectrum to 4G spectrum in these four circles with immediate effect.

Within another 45 days, it will complete its sharing and swapping deals with Reliance Jio, which will lead to the creation of a single 4G network co-owned by Jio and RCom. In 17 circles, that process is well on its way and will be completed in June itself.

RCom, however,  said it will not offer 4G services to its GSM subscribers before Jio’s commercial launch. Reliance Jio, controlled by Mukesh Ambani — brother of RCom promoter Anil — is in the final phases of testing its network and is currently on beta testing.

Once Jio launches its services commercially, RCom will come out with new tariff plans for bringing 4G subscribers on board,  including those of its 2G and 3G subscribers who want to take advantage of the new network.

RCom said it and Jio will have the same radio infrastructure, including the base station (eNodeB), but will not share the core network. At the traffic aggregation point, traffic coming from RCom subscribers will be diverted to RCom’s fiber network, while those from Jio’s subscribers will continue on Jio’s core network.

In addition, for all RCom 4G subscribers, voice service will be provided by RCom’s 2G and 3G networks where available.

AIRCEL, MTS DEAL

RCom also said that it will not be extending talks with Aircel shareholders any more, and a final announcement will be made before June 22.

Barring any unfortunate circumstances, the deal is expected to go through.

The addition of Aircel’s wireless capabilities to RCom will increase the Anil Ambani company’s competitiveness with respect to bigger competitors like Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio.

RCom said it expects to complete the integration and merger of its operations with those of MTS India by August.

It also clarified that it will divert MTS’ spectrum towards the combined 4G network being built with the help of Jio, implying that CDMA subscribers of MTS will also be migrated to 4G.

After the integration of MTS, the combined Jio-RCom 800 MHz network will have 10MHz  of spectrum in 11 circles, 8.75 MHz in 7 circles and 5-6.25 MHz in the remaining areas, it said.

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