Reliance Industries may plot tower sharing

Dylan Bushell-Embling
04 Nov 2011
Daily News

India's Reliance Industries, the holder of a pan-India wireless broadband license license, is now said to be planning infrastructure sharing deals to fulfil its plans to roll out a TD-LTE network.

The conglomerate, controlled by billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani, does not plan to deploy towers itself, an unnamed company source toldAgence France-Presse

The company will instead seek arrangements to use infrastructure owned by companies including Reliance Communications (RCom), the major operator owned by Ambani's brother Anil.

The potential deal underscores the thawing of relations between the two brothers, who had been estranged since their father died in 2002 without leaving a will. Amid animosity, the brothers had split the Reliance empire and signed a pact forbidding each from competing in the other's markets.

But the brothers agreed to abolish this pact in early 2010. In June, Reliance Industries then paid 48 billion rupees ($978.8 million) to acquire Infotel Broadband, the only company to have won pan-India spectrum in the BWA auction held earlier that month.

Reliance Industries had been rumored to be planning a $1 billion rollout to fulfil its TD-LTE plans, but deals to share other operators' infrastructure could give it a jump-start.

An arrangement makes sense for RCom as well, as the operator is looking for ways to reduce its $7 billion debt, and last year was forced to call off a $9 billion deal to sell its towers to GTL Infrastructure.

Like the other established mobile operators, RCom also grappling with cutthroat competition and rock-bottom margins.

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