Archive for January, 2014

Reliance Jio allowed to bid for any spectrum across India

January 31, 2014

India’s telecom Ministry has cleared the applications submitted by eight major players for bidding across circles in India. However, the Ministry has specifically prohibited Vodafone, Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications from bidding for pan-India spectrum.

Vodafone, one of the largest players in India’s telecom space has been banned from bidding for seven circles while Reliance Communications (Owned by ADAG) has been barred from eight. Tata Teleservices have been told they cannot bid for spectrum in the Nation’s Capital – Delhi.

At the same time, the Ministry has permitted Airtel, Reliance Jio, Idea Cellular, Aircel and Telewings to bid for spectrum in any circle across the country. RCom has been disallowed to bid for spectrum in the eight circles where it operates GSM services through a subsidiary Reliance Telecom. These circles are Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, North East, Orissa and West Bengal. Of these, Airtel and MukeshAmbani’s Reliance Jio hold 4G licenses too.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT)has raised cross-holding norms that bar single entities from two different owning operations in the same circle. This is the reason why Vodafone has not been allowed to bid in Assam, North East, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa as it operates throughout India through multiple entities. On the other hand, sources close to Vodafone and RCom maintain that they never intended to bid for these circles.The reason for Tata’s disbarment from Delhi arose on account of the company having negative net worth.

BhartiAirtel on the other hand seems to be focusing its arsenal on a different issue. The company has approached the Department of Telecommunicationsto reduce the earnest money it paid from Rupees 3,700 crore to Rupees 2, 975 crore. Despite this the battle for spectrum is expected to be intense this time.

While there have been certain casualties with the DoT coming down hard on a few players, there is a sense of renewed enthusiasm among the existing operators. This has been driven by two factors – reserve price has been reduced from earlier rounds and, a number of licenses are set to expire this year.

The Government has decided that the tenure of the earlier issued 20-year licenses will expire this year. As a result, operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have no choice but to bid for spectrum, especially in the 900 MHz band. The auction starts on February 3.

//

Reliance Industries to invest in Algae.Tec and fund its first India Plant

January 24, 2014

Continuing in its rapid expansion in diverse fields, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has announced an investment in Australian algae fuel developer Algae.Tec’s first Indian biofuel plant. The Indian Market represents a possible huge market for the Perth-based company and many companies are eyeing setting up shop here.

Mukesh Ambani owned RIL will initially invest $1.5 million in the Australian company followed by $1.2 million at a later date. Using the initial capital, Algae.Tec plans to build a pilot biofuels plants using its algae fuel technology. Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited (RIIHL) will fund the small pilot plant – which will capture Co2 emissions and turn this into algae for use as biofuels.

This pilot plant is designed with a view to modify the present technology to suit the local conditions. This will most probably lead to a larger demonstration plant. In the future though, we anticipate that RIL and Algae.Tec will join forces to establish commercial plants in India. In that respect, Reliance has the edge as it has exclusivity over the technology in the India market.

While various people have been speculating over the location of this pilot plant, sources say that it will be amidst the huge petroleum refineries in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

Algae.Tec has been confident about the positive impact the company’s technology will have on India’s energy sector. The Australian company’s managing director Peter Hatfull is of the opinion that algae technology had the potential to make a significant impact on India’s energy and environmental requirements. He was further quoted as saying, “This is a major step for us. India is a perfect market place for our technology It is an absolutely gigantic market” (Sic).These comments come on the back of widespread criticism of the Indian energy sector which hasn’t ceased its huge reliance on coal-fired generation and the lack for demand of clean biofuels.

In December 2013, Algae.Tec said it would focus on the ‘nutraceuticals’ market. Nutraceuticals are dietary supplements that support physical and mental health. Thecompany’s move away from algal fuels was influenced by the low capital costs of the former, as well as the potential for high gross margins on revenue, and significant market potential. With this move, the revenue that the company expects to generate in the next three years is significantly more than its present as the nutraceuticals market is touted to be worth $205 billion globally by 2017.

//

Reliance Jio Infocomm to offer Voice Services

January 21, 2014

Reliance Jio Infocomm, the only pan-India licence holder of 4G services has confirmed that it will be offering voice calls in addition to high speed data. The Mukesh Ambani owned Telecom Company has set its sights on becoming the number one player in the Indian telecom market. Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) CFO, AlokAgarwal told reuters, “We will definitely be offering voice the fact that we have submitted the application for participating in the forthcoming 2G and 3G spectrum auctions makes it clear that we are going to enter the voice space.”

At the same time, Agarwal refused to divulge more information on the company’s CAPEX plans, tariff, launch time-line, etc.

Reliance is looking to enter the Indian voice space after a gap of many years. The company was a pioneer in low-cost mobile rates when it launched a CDMA service under the Reliance India Mobile brand.

Reliance Jio in the second week of January applied for participation in the spectrum auctions for the 900/1800MHz bands, slated for early February. The government has put 16 blocks of 900MHz spectrum for auction each in Delhi and Mumbai and 14 blocks in Kolkata. Earlier this month, Reliance Jio had told PTI it would be offering 10-12 times faster 4G wireless service compared to 3G networks.

Commenting on the same, a Reliance Jio official was quoted as saying, “We are practically achieving a speed of 49Mbps downlink (download) and uplink is between 8-9Mbps.Theoretically, the present set up that we have, can achieve speed of 112Mbps downlink.”

Reliance Jio acquired a pan-India 4G license in the 2010 spectrum auctions. The company is running trial of products, including phone and TV services that it plans to provide through 4G network. It will provide outdoor customer premise equipment (CPE) that will connect to its mobile towers. The company also plans to enter the TV market. RJIL has 150 channels already on board and these can be seen across a range of devices viz., mobile phones to TV. This is expected to bring a windfall of revenues as the domestic TV market had 9.6 crores subscribers up to December 2013, followed by DTH with 5.45 crores.

A RJIL official in the know-how of the strategic plans of the company said, “We have almost all leading TV channels across all genres from leading houses – Sony, Zee, TV18, Star and others. This is trial phase and we will add more channels as we get ready for commercial launch.”

When India’s largest Private Sector Company entered the spectrum auction arena, it had quite an impact among existing players whose stock price took a hit. This was because of fears that they will have to shell out much more money due to rising competition, leading to widening of already high debt levels.

//

Reliance Digital Filmfare Calendar launched by Chitrangada Singh

January 15, 2014

Reliance Digital has partnered up with India’s leading Film and Entertainment magazine to launch a special calendar for the second year in succession. This year, the Reliance Digital Filmfare Calendar was launched by Bollywood Actress Chitrangada Singh at a glitzy function at the Auriga Restaurant in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai on 11th January. Speaking about the Filmfare calendar, Chitrangada said: “Filmfare has always been a part, whether it is a calendar shoot or Filmfare Awards. Filmfare is also an important property for the film industry as well.”

Filmfare has been the undisputed King of India’s film magazines and for over five decades has been giving reader a view of stars’ lives and has also captured some of the most iconic moments in India’s great film history. Reliance Digital is the consumer durables and information technology concept from Reliance Retail. Reliance Digital seeks to fulfill the dream of every Indian, be it through its nationwide network of conveniently located stores or through its presence on the web, by providing a delightful shopping experience of products & solutions and helping them bring home the latest & best in technology from the widest selection at the lowest assured price with complete peace of mind through lifelong support.

Jitesh Pillaai Editor Filmfare was quoted as saying, “It’s a blockbuster of a calendar. This glamorous calendar allows the fans to get a sneak peek into their favourite Stars’ digital basket. We are happy to be associated with Reliance Digital for our calendar, second year in a row.”

Reliance Digital has become one of the biggest players in India’s ever-growing retail industry. It’s also the fast growing retail chain. It was among the top five brands in the Brand Equity Most Trusted Brands 2012’ study. The new calendar launched in association with Filmfare features Shah Rukh Khan, KareenaKapoor Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Chitangada Singh, VarunDhawan all together, along with many other famous actors and actresses. In this, the stars also talk about their favorite gadgets and their love for technology. Many actors have also made appearances at Reliance Digital Stores and have professed to be fans of the chain.

//

RJIL plans faster 4G speeds; makes inroads into TV on mobile space

January 7, 2014

Reliance JioInfocomm (RJIL), the only pan-India license holder of 4G wireless broadband services is planning to introduce services whose connectivity speed is far greater than what existing networks can offer. According to the company, the speeds that RJIL can offer are nearly 10-12 times faster as compared to current 3G networks.

According to a source in the company, the speeds achieved are nothing short of stunning. They are achieving a speed of 49 megabit per second downlink (download), and uplink is between 8-9 mbps. Theoretically, using the current setup, RJIL can achieve speeds of 112 mbps downlink. At a speed of 49 megabits, a user can download an average movie (About 600mb) in less than two minutes.

Mukesh Ambani, the Chairman and MD of Reliance Industries Limited, (RIL) has long held an interest in the telecom industry. His company RJIL is the only one who has a nationwide 4G spectrum. It holds large chunk 20 megahertz in one frequency band known as wireless broadband access (BWA) spectrum. It has been allocated 2.2 crore numbers to start its services. In addition, the company is running trials of phone and TV services that it aims to offer through its 4G network. The telecom major will also provide outdoor customer premise equipment (CPE) that will connect to its mobile tower.

A RJIL official was quoted as saying, “There will be wire which will run into house of customers from this CPE that can be connected to various devices and create a local Wi-Fi network for people to access broadband. There will be a set-top-box that we will provide which will facilitate both broadband and television services.”

4G is a revolutionary network. With this, doors of many avenues that weren’t open due to technical difficulties have now been opened. One such is Television. The set-top-box that will provide television services has been developed on Google’s Android platform – the most widely used mobile platform in India. In case of homes who don’t get a good enough signal for wireless viewing, RJIL has a contingency plan – it plans to set up an optical fiber network. Over 150 channels have already been signed up for the same and the telecom company will provide across all devices ranging from mobile phone to TV sets using its high speed 4G network.

The RJIL spokesperson further commented, “We have almost all leading TV channels across all genres from leading houses- Sony, Zee, TV18, Star and others. This is trial phase and we will add more channels as we get ready for commercial launch.” He said its TV service will have a ‘Catch UP’ feature that will allow users to see programmes of the past 7 days. “We have our data centre ready which will automatically store this content.”

TV in India is a big industry. The number of cable TV subscribers is 9.6 crore, while, the number of DTH subscribers is 5.45 crores. Market analysts predict that 4G based ‘Jio Television’ could possibly serve as another platform to view TV on for Indian viewers.

//