Reliance Jio on the prowl for acquisitions to improve market foothold

Indian newcomer Reliance Jio is looking to strengthen its presence in the market via acquisitions of smaller firms in order to compete more effectively with its larger rivals.

The new entrant is preparing to go up against major established players in the Indian market, including market leader Bharti Airtel and numbers two and three, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. It is therefore attempting to strengthen its foothold by buying up smaller companies to bolster its market share.

Owned by Reliance Industries, Reliance Jio is preparing to launch 4G services in India. However, while this launch was originally scheduled for December, the operator has postponed it until April at the earliest. Jio has expressed its opinion that there is room for 4 major players in India, with “consolidation a necessity.”

Among the candidates for an acquisition by Jio are Aircel, Reliance Communications (RCom), Tata Telecom and Videocon. Jio would look to obtain spectrum and assets such as towers or fibre networks from these operators, but could also potentially forge partnerships with rivals. It already has a spectrum-sharing agreement in place with RCom.

Indian operators are beginning to deploy 4G services, with Bharti Airtel pledging to expand its high-speed offering to 400 towns and villages before the end of 2015. Meanwhile, Vodafone is launching services in major cities beginning with Kochi. Idea and state operator BSNL are both lining up 4G deployments in 2016.

Jio has invested a reported $15 billion into its 4G network, which included obtaining a pan-unified licence. It is the first operator in India to hold such a licence. 

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