India’s mobile newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm, while not revealing an official launch date for its long-awaited LTE service, said it now has more than 500,000 4G customers, who use an average of 18GB per month compared with an industry average of 150MB.
The operator, which reportedly planned a soft launch a month ago but has been uncharacteristically quiet about the full commercial launch date, 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.
It claims 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. It also has more than 50,000 small cells and aims to double that number this fiscal year.
These details were revealed in its parent company Reliance Industries’ Q4 results.
Jio’s current customer base is made up of Reliance group employees, partners and vendors, who have been able to trial the network since late December.
Its ambitious 4G plans have been delayed multiple times over the past nine months, 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.