While everybody is waiting with bated breath to experience 4G, Reliance Industries Ltd has already concocted its plan of setting up over 1,00,000 towers for handling these operations in the next three years to come. However, this move can disappoint scores of telecom operators who would have wished to be associated with RIL for the same as they plan to use their own passive infrastructure for the same by withdrawing from its ‘asset light ‘model.
The first phase of this wireless broadband project would involve its leasing around 26, 000 towers which have already attracted bids from varied tower operators. According to some sources, they have already set the ball rolling by looking out for quotes and samples for their carbon fire telecom towers from equipment vendors. With this change of plan, the outlay for their launch will double itself from the one previously settled on i.e. It may increase from $ 4 billion in 2010 to $ 8 -9 billion now.
It is also known that RIL will rent towers from the existing companies other than using its own, in case it is not able to build 1,00,000 towers according to its estimation.RIL ventured into the telecom sector after five years with the dissolution of the non- compete agreement. At present, it owns 95% stake in Infotel Broadband for which it had to pay a whopping amount of Rs. 4800 Crore. In addition, it had to also pay Rs 12,848 Crore for 20 MHz of spectrum to service 22 circles in the country, thus being the only company to do so.
Its opting for carbon towers seems to be a sensible decision as it might reduce its maintenance and base equipment needs. Besides, it is also eco- friendly and grants ease during relocation. However, they may be 25-40% more expensive than the conventional steel ones that are used. These towers have higher possibilities of being set in urban areas due to the demand being higher in these areas initially, owing to the awareness created about the same here. The present overcapacityin the towermarket is known to go down owing to the recent Supreme Court order and a few other existing companies shutting its operation owing to the poor tenacity level it has witnessed.
Indus towers has been the present largest tower company with its possession of around1,10,000 towers. With this plan put toimplementation, RIL has high chances of giving a stiff competition to Indus towers in the forthcoming years.