RIL rumored to eye Videocon deal in India

Caroline Gabriel/Wireless Watch
12 Nov 2012

RIL, which already holds national BWA spectrum in 2.5-GHz, is not expected to confine its ambitions to that TD-LTE band. Once more mainstream FD-LTE spectrum is awarded in 700-MHz and other bands – probably from 2014 – its own TDD network may well be pushed into a niche, supporting fixed services and offload for partners.

RIL could acquire its own 700-MHz spectrum and create a converged FD/TD-LTE system, turning itself into a 4G-only carrier with none of the burden of legacy technologies and ultra-low 2G ARPUs. However, it does need a roaming partner or access to a network with full coverage, if it wants to be a top tier cellco.

It has often been reported to be in talks with its own former sister firm, Reliance Communications, about a roaming-for-offload agreement or even a full joint venture. The Reliance group split acrimoniously in 2004 and the telecom businesses went to RCom, but in recent years non-compete clauses have expired and relations between the firms - which are run by two brothers - have thawed.

However, another route is now open to RIL. Sources indicate it could repeat the trick it pulled in the BWA auction of 2.3/2.5-GHz spectrum in 2010. It did not participate directly, but immediately after the sale acquired Infotel, a smaller WISP which was the only bidder to obtain national spectrum holdings.

Now, it is possible that RIL will stay out of the 1.8-GHz sale, keeping prices depressed, but will then acquire or partner with Videocon to gain access to that firm's spectrum.

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