Reliance Infocomm on Friday announced launch of its limited mobility telecom service, seeking to provide the facility in 673 towns and cities across the country with three schemes including a unique three year Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer Offer at Rs 3000.
"We will commence demonstrations of the service on January 15 and begin bookings by February. We expect to start the commercial operation in February or March," Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani told reporters at the Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City (DAKC) in Navi Mumbai.
Eventually, the wireless in local loop (WLL) facility would connect all the 6,40,000 villages and 2,000 odd towns and cities to each other and to the world in a seamless way, he said, adding the service based on code division multiple access (CDMA) platform would provide messaging, business transactions, videoconferencing, music download and movie download services.
Referring to the Pioneer offer, the booking for which ends in March, he said among other things the subscribers would get one free digitial mobile phone worth Rs 10,500, unlimited free incoming calls, 15 second pulse rate and free outgoing calls for 400 minutes.
Within the plan, the cost of a STD call is 40 paisa a minute and that of a short call up to 15 seconds is only 10 paisa, Ambani said, adding the scheme also allows for exchange of current handsets and discount coupons for various products.
Ambani said under the Pioneer offer, the subscribers would pay Rs 600 per month while the value-added services such as call hold, call conferencing and test messaging would be free of cost.
The tariff plans have been approved by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India which had asked the company to provide free incoming calls and the rates would be reviewed every quarter, Ambani said.
The standard plan of the Reliance IndiaMobile Service would require monthly payment of Rs 200 as rental and Rs 1.20 per minute call charge while the regular scheme was an upfront payment plan, which covered only talk time.
"Once we get into commercial services, we expect to report profit in the first year itself and as on now we are on right track", Ambani said.
On the market share, he said mobile market has a bright future in the country with one million per month growth and hoped to capture 15-25 per cent of the market by 2004.
Giving details of the company's phased plans, Ambani said the first phase of the service was the nationwide wireless network, which would be followed by an enterprise netway revolution by providing broadband experience to every desktop and devices in half a million enterprise buildings initially in second half of 2003.
In the third phase in 2004, he said, the comapny would provide high speed convergence networks to millions of homes.
Ambani said the estimated cost of the project is Rs 25,000 crore and the company has so far committed Rs 11,000 crore while raising Rs 15,000 crore from equity and debt.
Reliance and Ambani family hold 45 per cent stake each in the entity while the balance 10 per cent vests with the employees trust.
On the interconnect issue, he said the company would sit with other service providers and discuss the same next month.
On the availability of handsets, Ambani said the company would provide one to eight million sets and would think of manufacturing them only after the year 2003.
Referring to investment of USD 200 million by US-based QualComm into the venture, Ambani said the option was open from both sides and it would be reviewed in six months.
Reliance Infocomm was also initiating a new Dhirubhai Ambani Entrepreneur Programme (DAEP) and the Dhirubhai Ambani Developer Programme (DADP), he said. The company was targeting to enroll initially one lakh and ultimately two lakh young entrepreneures to market its product and services. Reliance envisages spending over Rs 100 crore per year in training and competency building programmes for these entrepreneuers, Ambani said.
Other Reliance offerings like cooking gas and insurance products would also be marketed through this team, he added.
On the DADP, Ambani said 1,000 developers of software are being enrolled now to eventually grow to one lakh by December 2003. These people would convert ideas into products.
The services developed by them could be provided free to the subscribers upto 90 days, he added.