Reliance Communications (RCOM) and Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) have signed a strategic partnership covering the transfer and sharing of frequencies in the 800MHz band. Under the deal, RCOM will sell 800MHz frequencies in nine circles to RJIL, whilst the duo will share 800MHz band spectrum in 17 circles. According to RCOM’s press release, its customers will also be able to access RJIL’s LTE platform via network sharing and inter-circle roaming (ICR) agreements. Both operators, meanwhile, benefit from network synergies, enhanced capacity and optimised spectrum utilisation. No financial details of the deal were made public, although previous reports had suggested that RJIL will pay around INR45 billion (USD673 million) for the airwaves, which RCOM will use to pay part of the liberalisation fees.
Under the rules governing the sharing or trading of airwaves in India, operators are first required to pay the government the market-determined price for any spectrum which they did not purchase via auction, a process known as ‘liberalising’ the spectrum. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has set a price of INR69.53 billion for RCOM to liberalise its airwaves, including a market price of INR53.84 billion for the frequencies and a spectrum usage charge of INR15.69 billion, although the latter fee is being disputed by the cellco.