RCOM inaugurates commercial 3G services in four cities

14 Dec 2010

Reliance Communications (RCOM) has become the second privately owned mobile network operator to launch commercial 3G services, India’s Economic Times reports. The cellco has introduced its third-generation services in four cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta and Chandigarh – and has said that it expects to expand coverage to those remaining areas where it has 3G spectrum by the end of March 2011; as previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2010 RCOM bagged 3G licences for 13 of India’s telecoms circles at a cost of INR85.85 billion (USD1.87 billion). In those areas where it does not own spectrum it is widely expected that RCOM will enter into a roaming agreement with a rival operator.

Prashant Goharn, head of RCOM’s 3G services, meanwhile noted of the launch: ‘Our network will automatically migrate all 2G customers with 3G-enabled handsets to the 3G network at no cost,’ with estimates that around 20%-25% of the cellco’s urban subscribers already own devices capable of benefitting from the higher-speed data services. By comparison, just 8%-10% of RCOM’s rural subscribers are thought to have 3G-compatible handsets.

In terms of the cost to customers, RCOM has unveiled 3G tariffs ranging from IN199 per month to INR2,499, with Syed Safawi, chief executive of the operator’s wireless business, stating that he did not expect a tariff war similar to that which has overshadowed the 2G sector. ‘We don’t see a price war in 3G. Even 2G prices are stabilising. The competition will be on content and innovation in services … We will be very competitive and will stay mark-to-market,’ he added, referring to pricing of its 3G services.

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