India’s mobile newcomer Reliance Jio, after multiple delays last year, will officially launch 4G service by early March along with MiFi devices with 10GB of data for INR700 ($10.50), RTN Asia reported.
Jio, which has been lining up new distributors across the country, said it will release dongles and SIMs in February.
The operator has delayed the launch as it aims to have 90 per cent population coverage before it rolls out commercial service, the Economic Times said. It now reportedly has about 70 per cent coverage.
Jio, which originally offered free 4G SIMs and handset discounts to staff in Mumbai, announced it was expanding the trial for employees on 27 December at a celebration marking founder Dhirubhai Ambani’s birthday. The company invited staff with a 25 per cent discount on its Lyf brand smartphones, which are VoLTE and voice-over-Wi-Fi enabled.
Jio, which now has 25,000 employees, is the first operator to obtain a pan-India unified licence, holding 751.1MHz across the 800MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.3GHz bands in multiple regions, and has invested a reported $15 billion in the rollout.
But while it has delayed, market leader Bharti Airtel has aggressively pushed 4G across the country and said back in June it plans to expand its 4G service, available in 45 cities and towns, to 296 urban areas.
Vodafone India, the country’s second largest operator, rolled out its first 4G service in Kochi, Kerela state, with plans to soon launch in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata.
And number three Idea Cellular reportedly launched 4G service in December across five states in the south of the country and plans to roll out service in 10 regions early this year.