Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio is steadily moving closer to the launch of its 4G services in December this year in what represents one of the largest greenfield digital initiatives anywhere in the world.
While there is a cloak of secrecy around the scope of the launch, many details are slowly starting to emerge.
In its recent quarterly results update, Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) -- Reliance Jio 's parent company -- let slip that 'Lyf' will be the brand name under which its Reliance Retail division will market 4G services. Moreover, mobile devices are to be compatible with voice-over-LTE and voice-over-WiFi technologies and include features such as HD voice and HD-quality video calling. Device prices are likely to range from 4,000 Indian rupees ($61.8) to INR25,000 ($386.3).
The lack of a device ecosystem bears much of the blame for the delay to the launch of 4G services. To spur adoption, RJio will be offering devices through Reliance Retail stores at heavily subsidized rates. It also plans to launch those devices around Diwali, the festival of lights and India's biggest religious event.
RJio has also revealed that it will offer mobile WiFi devices for as little as INR3,000 ($46.3) per unit as part of its 4G strategy, allowing customers to create hotspot zones. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Alcatel OneTouch (TCL Communication) are believed to have developed devices for the operator.
Besides providing details of device plans, RJio has indicated that a customer interface and app store branded Jio World will make all of its app-based services available from one place.
In addition, media reports suggest RJio has begun testing a mobile wallet service called Jio Money Merchant that will cater to small and midsized enterprises. RJio has been awarded a bank payment license in partnership with the State Bank of India, the country's largest bank.
Nevertheless, while testing is under way in various parts of India, rumors are circulating that RJio will not launch services commercially until March 2016, missing its target of December 2015 by some measure. Reliance has a tradition of launching new ventures on December 28, the birthday of Dhirubhai Ambani, who founded Reliance Industries and is the father of Mukesh. But the company might simply opt for a soft launch of RJio on December 28 to honor this tradition.
— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading