Light Reading
Indian CDMA carrier issues the Godzilla of wireless RFPs – for a $7B GSM network

Reliance Plans $7B GSM Build-Out

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
12/6/2006
50%
50%

India's Reliance Communications Ltd. (RCom) is inviting bids for GSM equipment contracts in a massive $7 billion-plus network expansion that will see the CDMA-based operator running two mobile networks.

The country’s largest CDMA (code-division multiple access) carrier, Reliance has made the strategic decision to switch to GSM (global system for mobile) for the purpose of expanding its network coverage and capacity. Its CDMA network will remain in operation, for the time being at least -- a decision the operator says will allow it to roll out the new network more quickly and cheaply by using its existing passive infrastructure to add capacity. (See Reliance Dabbling With Dual Networks.)

Reliance's CDMA network has capacity for 30 million subscribers, and if its customer base continues to expand by more than one million users every month, it will run out of capacity by mid-2007.

According to local press reports, Reliance is looking at awarding three or four contracts for around 70 million to 75 million GSM lines and 20 million to 25 million wideband CDMA (3G) lines.

By leveraging the CDMA network, it will be able to cut the cost of 30 million lines, and assuming it pays the going rate of around $100 per line for the rest, the carrier could spend around $7 billion or $8 billion on the network. The evaluation process could take up to five months.

The project dwarfs Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) 's 60 million line tender as the largest ever wireless request for proposals. (BSNL's RFP is often called a monster; this must be Godzilla.) It's sure to attract the likes of Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) -- which are set to gain from the state-run carrier’s expansion. BSNL’s contracts are being delayed in court over a dispute with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). (See Ericsson, Nokia Bid Low for BSNL and Moto Stalls BSNL's Wireless Tender.)

In addition to its nationwide CDMA network, which operates in 21 of India’s 23 telecom “circles,” or regions with 24 million customers, Reliance already runs a small GSM network in eight regions with around 3 million customers through its Reliance Telecom subsidiary.

But while Reliance moves ahead with its plans to build out the GSM network, it remains to be seen whether the government will actually allocate any more GSM spectrum to the carrier. (See Reliance Squeezed by Spectrum Crunch.)

India’s mobile operators are all in need of spectrum to accommodate rapid subscriber growth. In October alone, they added a combined 6.7 million new subscribers -- bringing the total to 136.22 million. The Indian Department of Telecom is still working to release additional spectrum it promised by the end of the year, and says it will finalize a comprehensive spectrum allocation policy by the end of 2007.

Reliance has applied for GSM spectrum in 21 of the 23 circles under a unified service access license, but it’s at the back of the queue. And in the most sought-after circles, which incorporate cities like Mumbai and New Delhi, there won’t be enough spectrum to go around. Priority will go to the national GSM operators such as BSNL and Bharti and regional carriers like Hutchison Essar and Idea Cellular Ltd. , which have recently been awarded new licenses to expand. (See Indian Mobile Set to Spread.)

Since it first revealed its dual-network strategy, Reliance has been butting heads with the Indian government, which has said it will need to give up some of its CDMA spectrum in exchange for GSM spectrum. Reliance argues that it needs both to accommodate subscriber growth.

So why would Reliance go to the trouble of inserting itself into the GSM market? Part of the answer is, in fact, spectrum. In the less sought-after regions, there is spectrum still available, and while CDMA operators are allocated spectrum in blocks of 2.5 MHz, GSM carriers are allocated 5 MHz.

The shift in focus is also part of the larger move away from CDMA in the mobile industry. GSM now caters to 70 percent of global mobile subscribers, making handsets and equipment cheaper to source. It also provides a migration path to wideband CDMA for 3G, which is expected to reach India early next year. (See India Prepares for 3G Rollout.)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
materialgirl
50%
50%
materialgirl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:01 AM
re: Reliance Plans $7B GSM Build-Out
With this slow-moving government and growing demand for low-end services, India seems a perfect spot to introduce WiFi services. Is WiFi an unsung hero here already?
standardsarefun
50%
50%
standardsarefun,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:32:57 AM
re: Reliance Plans $7B GSM Build-Out
Get serious! WiFi can barely go a few 100m and mesh would never scale to cover this sort of traffic load and nor would you be sure of the powering for the boxes.

India has a massive telecom capacity expansion in front of it and the only real choices are 2G/3G or WiMAX. WiFi is a fun idea for some urban cases but not for something as serious as the future of Indian telecom infrastructure!
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (5) comments


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Google Continues Gigabit Expansion
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/27/2015
Comcast Apologizes to 'A**hole' Brown
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/29/2015
Cablevision's New WiFi Try – Freewheeling Enough?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/26/2015
Overture Builds on NFV Foundation
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/27/2015
Bumper iPhone Sales Boost Apple Profits
Iain Morris, News Editor, 1/28/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Weekly Executive Interview
Join us live for Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he has to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.