Why is Reliance Jio betting on 1800 MHz in the recent auction?

In the recent spectrum auction, Reliance Jio is betting a lot on 1800 MHz in comparison to 900 MHz. The reason for this is simple, first 1800 MHz is available pan India whereas 900 MHz is limited to three circles of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Second, 2300 MHz is not giving them desired result with respect to in-building penetration and also attractive business model thereby delaying the launch of BWA services in the country whereas in case of 1800 MHz things would be different. 1800 MHz will help in better in-building coverage and also help in making Reliance Jio’s  business model more attractive vis-a-vis 2300 MHz.

Third, Reliance Jio is planning to focus on 1800 MHz as worldwide maximum LTE eco-system is available in 1800 MHz band. According to Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), majority of LTE operators have deployed FDD mode of LTE.

The most widely used band in network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz which is used in 44 percent of commercially launched LTE networks. 115 operators worldwide have now launched LTE1800 (band 3) systems, 37 percent higher than 6 months ago, in 61 countries, either as a single band system, or as part of a multi-band deployment.

The next most popular contiguous bands are 2.6 GHz (band 7) as used in 27 percent of networks in commercial service today, followed by 800 MHz (band 20) used in 12 percent of networks and AWS (band 4) used in 8 percent of networks.

As 1800 MHz is the prime band for LTE deployments worldwide, it will greatly assist international roaming for mobile broadband. Mobile licenses for 1800 MHz have been awarded to 350+ operators in nearly 150 countries. All this is win-win for Reliance Jio as it will help in getting network equipment as well as LTE CPE and handset at a cheaper price and also helping international roaming with respect to broadband.

So, the big question is whether Reliance Jio will plan for a multi-band deployment using both 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz or will it utilize single band deployment based on 1800 MHz. In both the cases, Reliance Jio needs 1800 MHz badly so we expect aggressive bidding in 1800 MHz also apart from 900 MHz which is limited to three high revenue generating circles.

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