With the new NIA for Spectrum Auction it is evident that renewal of Telecom Spectrum for existing licensees is out of question and Auction is the only way forward. We all know that Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd [RJIL has ambitious plans. However, RJIL is locked in the inefficient 2300MHz PAN India 4G LTE Spectrum, which faces serious viability challenges, and for a credible Long Term telecom strategy, RJIL would need to expand into smartphone-driven Voice & Data. Among the various bands to be auctioned in coming years [700, 800, 900, 1800, 2100]. RJIL’s best chance could well be to employ 900Mhz for 2G Voice and 3G Data along with 2300Mhz for 4G LTE.
In the forthcoming auction, RJIL can bid for 5MHz block of 900MHz spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata to begin with as Airtel and Vodafone will have to be content with a little lesser spectrum than they originally have. Later, RJIL may consider participating in 900-auction in Category A and B circles in 2015/2016 which will be up for renewals as shown in the Table below.
Advantages of 900MHz over 1800Mhz Spectrum for Reliance Jio
900Mhz Spectrum is efficient for Voice and incurs just half the amount on CAPEX for establishing the network in comparison to 1800MHz. RJIL will deploy a one time network capable of handling both voice & data traffic. 900Mhz Spectrum can support existing SmartPhones for 3G Data as well in addition to clear Voice. [We have earlier written on How Idea Cellular could also enter the 900 Bidding War in Mumbai] This way RJIL would have bouquet of complete Wireless Service Offerings 2G Voice, 3G Data and 4G-LTE High Speed Mobile Broadband.
Alternatively, if RJIL chooses to stay out of 3G data offerings, it can bid for 5MHz chunks of 1800Mhz Spectrum across India and deploy Voice and 4G later as consumer taste shifts to data. My best bet is RJIL must bid for 900Mhz Spectrum at least in Delhi and Mumbai to test the water of bouquet of wireless across 2G, 3G and 4G technologies. What say ?