In Business Model, Internet Access, Spectrum

In the middle of construction on a fourth generation Long Term Evolution 4G mobile network, Reliance Jio also is building a new network of  public Wi-Fi hotspots. You might ask “why?”

There are several answers. First, Reliance Jio sees an opportunity for additional business supporting 98 “smart city” initiatives already announced by the ministry of urban development.

Reliance Jio, for example, has activated public Wi-Fi for he Hazratganj main bazaar as well as in other areas. In part, that strategy makes sense for the same reason other mobile service providers have done so: Wi-Fi helps with indoor coverage.

On the other hand, various government entities are promoting public Wi-Fi networks that will be provided by private entities, typically with some mix of revenue potential and free services.

So Jionet Wi-Fi services therefore could represent an additional Internet access business Reliance Jio can enter, in addition to supporting the 4G network.  If it does not do so, then rivals certainly will move in.

BSNL, for example, already has installed more than 300 hotspots in 25 cities and plans are to reach more than 1,000 hotspots in the current fiscal year spanning 2015 and 2016.

But many other mobile companies believe their public hotspot networks provide material advantage to their mobile businesses, as many fixed network Internet service providers also tout their own public hotspot networks as a competitive advantage.

If BSNL and other mobile service providers or fixed network ISPs are able to emphasize the advantages of public Wi-Fi access for their customers, Reliance Jio, like many other firms globally, might conclude it must respond in kind.

On the other hand, most mobile operators already have discovered how important it is to enable offload mechanisms, conserving capacity on 4G and other networks while offering consumers a measurable benefit, and often an experience boost.

Allowing consumers to use Wi-Fi means consumers use less of their data network allowances, thus saving them money, while often enabling better user experience as well.

Also, Reliance Jio might learn much about end user behavior when it is able to observe actual end user behavior before full formal launch of 4G services. That can be very helpful where it comes to siting towers and planning for capacity at each tower site, for example.

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