India’s mobile newcomer Reliance Jio finally opened its long-awaited LTE service to the public, but the operator stopped short of a full launch.
According to the Economic Times, Jio is now selling its Lyf smartphones with 4G SIMs at large retail stores in at least eight major cities across the country. It also launched its Jio.com website, where customers can sign up for 4G connections, which come with unlimited data for three months and 4,500 minutes of calls.
The 4G operator, which delayed the launch of its services multiple times over the past six months, invited select employees at Reliance Industries (its parent company) late last year to use its new network. Last month it kicked off an employee referral programme.
Jio said at the end of April it had more than 500,000 4G customers. It claimed 70 per cent population coverage with about 90,000 towers (it owns about half of those) and plans to take that to 90 per cent by adding 10,000 more towers.
The operator, which obtained 2.6GMHz spectrum six years ago, said it will invest an additional INR600 billion ($9 billion) in capex this fiscal year, after spending INR1 trillion on its 4G service rollout since 2010.
Its ambitious 4G plans have been pushed back multiple times over the past year, and the operator is now no longer the only player with pan-India 4G spectrum, after market leader Bharti Airtel forged a spectrum deal with Aircel that will give it a nationwide 4G footprint.