India’s telecoms ministry has approved an application made by Reliance Jio Infocomm for a Unified Licence that will allow the operator to use its pan-Indian 4G spectrum for high-speed mobile broadband and voice.
A letter of intent from the government has already been issued, according to local reports.
Jio Infocomm, the only operator to hold pan-Indian spectrum, made its Unified Licence application on 21 August.
According to a report by India’s Business Today, the operator now has to pay a one-time entry fee of INR16.73 billion ($273 million). A performance bank guarantee (INR2.2 billion) and a financial bank guarantee (INR440 million) is also required to get hold of the licence
Jio Infocomm has an Internet Service Provider Licence but that will scrapped once it receives its Unified Licence.
It’s not clear, however, when Jio Infocomm intends to launch 4G services.
The new telecom licence marks a return to mobile for Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, who controls Reliance Industries (of which Jio Infocomm is a part).
Earlier this year, Jio Infocomm signed a INR120 billion tower-sharing agreement with Reliance Communications (RCom) – controlled by younger brother Anil Ambani – to roll out nationwide 4G network.
The deal was widely interpreted as a thawing of relations between the Ambani brothers since they carved up their father’s Reliance business in 2005.
Jio Infocomm bought pan-Indian spectrum in 2010 for roughly INR130 billion.