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Reliance set to revolutionise mobile services

Priya Ganapati in Mumbai | December 27, 2002 21:20 IST

The Reliance Infocomm juggernaut will roll on December 28 to coincide with the 70th birthday of late Dhirubhai Ambani, founder chairman of the Reliance Group.

And going by what the company has in store, it is all set to revolutionise India's telecom sector, not to mention give a run for their money to the existing players in the arena.

At its sprawling 140-acre under-construction Dhirubhai Knowledge City in Navi Mumbai, the Reliance Group, on Friday announced the details of its limited mobility services to be offered under the Reliance Infocomm umbrella.

A subsidiary of the Reliance Group of Industries, Reliance Infocomm will formally start operations from December 28.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries unveiled Reliance IndiaMobile, a nationwide limited mobility or Wireless in Local Loop network with a tariff that is the most ambitious ever listed by a telecom company in India.

For the IndiaMobile, Reliance Infocomm, will offer three schemes for consumers. The first introductory offer would be the 'Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer' offer.

Under it, consumers will be given a free digital mobile phone, unlimited free incoming calls, billing at 15-seconds pulse rate, for a one-time fee of Rs 3000 as membership charges and Rs 600 per month as telephony charges.

All incoming calls would be free and outgoing calls would be charged at 10 paise for 15 seconds. The cost of a national long-distance call to any Reliance phone in the country would be 40-paise for a minute. In addition, users would get 400-minutes of outgoing calls free.

Value added services like voice mail, call waiting, call hold, call divert, call identification,, call conferencing, dynamic STD/ISD locking and text messaging would be offered for free.

Internet access through the phones would also be free initially.

"The pricing system is in line with Dhirubhai Ambani's dream and directive of making phone calls affordable for every Indian. It has been made possible due to the significant capital productivity achieved," said Ambani.

Nationwide demonstrations to consumers would begin on January 15 and bookings would start in early February. By the end of March Reliance Infocomm will close bookings for the Pioneer scheme.

"The key feature of this scheme is that a Rs 10,500 handset comes free for users and this all facilities offered will be valid for three years," Ambani said.

The Pioneer scheme would be a three-year plan. It will be valid only till the end of March.

Users can also opt for the 'Regular' scheme which involves an upfront payment that covers only talk time, and 'Standard' plan that will be a monthly payment plan.

Bookings for the Standard and Regular plan will open only after March.

Tariff for those plans would be all incoming calls free and Rs 1.20 for three minutes and Rs 200 as rentals. In these schemes, consumers would have to buy their own handsets for which financing options will be made available.

Here's a snapshot of the various schemes.

Telephony services
Value added services
1. Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer Scheme
Financing scheme:
Rs 3000 as membership charges
Monthly charges of Rs 600
to be paid for 3 years.
Total cost: Rs 24,600 over three years.
Handset included.
Lockin  period of three years

*All incoming calls  free
*Local outgoing calls at 10 paise for 15 seconds.
*National long-distance call to any Reliance phone at 40-paise a minute.
*400-minutes of outgoing calls free.
*Handset to be provided by Reliance as part of the package

*Voice mail
*Call waiting, call hold, call divert, call identification, call conferencing, dynamic STD/ISD locking and other call management services
*Text messaging
*Video downloads
*Audio downloads
*Internet surfing
Self Financed: Rs 21,000 over three years.  Includes handset.

2. Standard
Rs 200 as rentals + telephony charges based on usage. Tariff of Rs 1.20 for three minutes
Based on monthly billing. No lockin period
*All incoming calls free
*Outgoing calls billed at Rs 1.20 for three minutes
All value added services to be charged.
3. Regular
Prepaid service that covers only talk time
No lockin. Validity till expiry of the prepaid card
*All incoming free.
*Outgoing calls billed at Rs 1.20 for three minutes
For users who want to buy their own handset under Scheme 1, the
will cost Rs 14,400 for three years.

There will also be an exchange offer, through which existing handsets can be exchanged for international long distance time valued between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000.

Reliance has tied up with a handset manufacturers like LG, and Daewoo to ensure that between 1 million and 8 million handsets are ready for delivery, depending on the demand from the consumers.

The Reliance IndiaMobile service would be available only on these CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) handsets.

The phones would be light, sleek, Java-enabled and multimedia ready with polyphonic sound and features like 3-way conferencing, in-built phone book memory and lithium ion battery for longer talk time.

Premium handsets, that will cost up to Rs 17,000 will have a color screen and PC synchronisation support. All handsets would have a 12-month warranty and be covered by insurance, absolutely free for three years.

To market its services, Reliance Infocomm will launch the Dhirubhai Ambani Entrepreneur Programme that will sign up 100,000 individuals initially. These individuals will acquire new customers for the company.

There will also be the Dhirubhai Ambani Developer Programme that will create a new platform for innovations in information technology.

One thousand developers of software solutions are being enrolled initially. Ambani hopes to see 100,000 developers join this initiative by December 2003.

These developers will convert ideas into products and ride on the infrastructure provided by Reliance Infocomm.

"The revenues that we gather from these products would be shared with the developers," Ambani said.

Though all the interconnect agreements are yet to be in place, Ambani reassured subscribers to the service that by January 2003, Reliance Infocomm would be ready to launch full-fledged commercial services.

"There will be a 40 per cent discount over the existing rate to national long distance calls to non-Reliance phones," Ambani promised.

Apart from the plain vanilla telephony services, Reliance Infocomm is betting on services like Internet browsing, emails, video downloads, audio downloads and picture messaging to hook consumers onto the network.

While these are initially free, Reliance will start charging for them once the introductory offer expires in March.

"We will have 24 by 7, 365 days a year, customer service in ten regional languages to ensure consumers have a smooth experience. We have also tied up with 10,000 retail chain services throughout India," Ambani said.

In mid 2003, Reliance Infocomm will launch its Enterprise Netway revolution. Initially it will provide 100 mbps Ethernet links to every desktop and device to half a million enterprise buildings. This would be later expanded to 10 million buildings.

"This revolution will empower every enterprise by making transactions, efficient, functions seamless and new economic opportunities abundant," Ambani explained.

At the end of 2003, Reliance Infocomm will turn its attention towards consumers by offering them high speed Ethernet links.

This is expected to cover 80 million homes. The broadband network will offer consumers the entire range of television channels, high-speed telephony, audio conferencing, videoconferencing and video on demand.

Reliance Infocomm has laid out a 60,000 km terabit capacity optic fibre network that cover 673 cities currently. Over the next two years, it plans to expand its fibre optic network and eventually cover 11,600 kms and provide connectivity to 640,00 villages and 2500 towns and cities of India.

"This is the largest infrastructure and services rolled out by any new entrant anywhere in the world. In terms of complexity, it spans voice, data, video, audio and value added services," Ambani declared.

Reliance Infocomm hopes to sign up connections at the rate of a million a month by 2004, thus accounting for between 15-25 per cent of the total market share.

Reliance has already invested Rs 11,000 crore (Rs 110 billion) towards building this network and eventually the total investments is expected to stand at Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion).

Despite these astounding investments and incredibly low tariffs Ambani said that Reliance Infocomm will show profits by the end of first year of operation.

Digital revolution

Reliance Infocomm will provide knowledge workers a platform to develop and offer technology solutions for all professions and institutions across the world.

It will catalyse India's formidable software talent to develop products for the global market, and realise substantially higher value for their efforts.

"With an 'every time, every place, every device' network ethos, a sweeping span of services and a new breed of entrepreneurs, Reliance Infocomm will prepare India to take on the mantle of leadership in the knowledge age," said Mukesh Ambani.

The network

Reliance Infocomm has created an overarching digital infrastructure using state-of-the-art technology on the strength of a 60,000 kilometre terabit capacity optic fibre network covering over 600 cities.

Commenting on the network, Mukesh Ambani said: "The architecture and functionality of this network is dynamic to keep pace with the evolution of technology in the future."

The goal of Reliance Infocomm is to progressively expand its optic fibre network and eventually cover 116,000 km, with the ability to seamlessly connect every individual, home, and office in all 640,000 villages and 2,500 towns and cities of India.

Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City

The headquarters for all these services, programmes and operations of Reliance Infocomm is located in the Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City, a brand new and modern campus built on a 140-acre site in Navi Mumbai, conceived by Nita Ambani, president of the Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation.

The campus hosts a national operations center, applications development laboratories, data centers, and contact centers, spread over 2.2 million square feet of office space.

The Reliance Infocomm initiative

Recognising that Dhirubhai Ambani's vision of a 'new way of life for a new India' will become a massive material force when it grips millions of men and women, Reliance Infocomm is executing the entire project as a comprehensive, unprecedented partnership between authorities, people and businesses.

This partnership is already in action. It began with the unveiling a new telecom policy and the government has empowered 18 state governments, 7,000 municipal authorities, thousands of young professionals, engineers and workers.

Proceeding in the same partnership mode, Reliance Infocomm will bring out the convergence of information and communications to energise enterprises by opening up new paths for profitable ventures, facilitating outsourcing of businesses and making transactions efficient.

This overarching 'infocomm' architecture will galvanise governance by making records easily accessible, services rendered efficiently and processes made seamless and efficient.

All this will make Infocomm a means to empower and enlighten every individual, home, and office.

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