RCom to Shift 5-m CDMA Users to 4G

Net­work tran­si­tion from CDMA to LTE to be done in a phased man­ner from May 4

The Economic Times - - Companies - Our Bu­reau

New Delhi: Re­liance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions (RC0m) will up­grade its roughly 5 mil­lion CDMA cus­tomers to a 4G net­work in phases from May 4, join­ing big­ger ri­vals Bharti Air­tel, Voda­fone In­dia and Idea Cel­lu­lar in rolling out high-speed broad­band ser­vices.

The plan was re­vealed on the day rat­ings com­pany Moody’s In­vestors Ser­vice down­graded RCom’s out­look to ‘neg­a­tive’ from ‘sta­ble’, cit­ing de­lays in the sale of its non-core as­sets, send­ing shares of the telco lower.

RCom has been try­ing to cut about .₹ 40,000 crore of debt by sell­ing its tower and op­tic fi­bre net­work and merg­ing its wire­less as­sets with Air­cel, both of which have been de­layed be­yond their ini­tial time­lines. How­ever, Moody’s noted that RCom’s spec­trum shar­ing and trad­ing pacts with Re­liance Jio In­fo­comm and the im­mi­nent com­ple­tion of a merger with Sis­tema Shyam Te­le­ser­vices were pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments in the past three months. “We will be up­grad­ing our net­work from CDMA to LTE (a 4G stan­dard) tech­nol­ogy,” the Anil Am­bani-owned telco said in an April 4 let­ter to the telecom de­part­ment. “We would be rolling out LTE ser­vices pro­gres­sively in these ser­vice ar­eas from May 4 and nec­es­sary in­ti­ma­tion will be pro­vided to our ex­ist­ing CDMA sub­scribers.”

RCom will lever­age its spec­trum-shar­ing pact with Re­liance Jio and use its in­fra­struc­ture to launch 4G ser­vices. Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the plan said RCom will ini­tially roll out the up­grade in Haryana, Pun­jab, Hi­machal Pradesh and Odisha, fol­lowed by the more lu­cra­tive cir­cles of Mum­bai and Delhi, and in­tends to com­plete the process by Au­gust 15.

“RCom has al­ready started in­ti­mat­ing sub­scribers in the four cir­cles that they can up­grade from May 4. It could also of­fer bun­dled 4G de­vices un­der var­i­ous in­stal­ment schemes to those who don’t have 4G hand­sets,” one of the peo­ple said. An in­dus­try ex­pert cau­tioned that mov­ing sub­scribers from CDMA to 4G may leave them vul­ner­a­ble to poach­ing from stronger ri­vals.

Moody’s said that while the ben­e­fits of the spec­trum agree­ment will start ac­cru­ing to RCom with the tran­si­tion of its CDMA sub­scribers to LTE, mean­ing­ful fi­nan­cial and op­er­a­tional gains will come in only when Jio starts com­mer­cial ser­vices. Jio is ex­pected to soft-launch 4G ser­vices this month, with wider com­mer­cial oper­a­tions likely to start around De­cem­ber.

RCom had signed a17-cir­cle air­wave-shar­ing pact in the 800 MHz band with Jio. It also agreed to sell 800 MHz spec­trum to Jio in nine ser­vice ar­eas where the Mukesh Am­bani com­pany does not have air­waves in this band.

The ex­pected 4G spec­trum union be­tween the Am­bani Bros will pit them against top 3 car­ri­ers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.