Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom), controlled by tycoon Anil Ambani, will partner with Reliance Industries Ltd's telecom subsidiary to launch fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone services by year-end, the company's chairman said on Wednesday.
Reliance Industries is controlled by Anil Ambani's brother Mukesh Ambani, one of the richest businessmen in the country.
RCom is the latest operator to enter the race to provide 4G services, joining leading carriers Bharti Airtel and unlisted Vodafone India, which are bracing for heated competition from Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the telecom unit of conglomerate Reliance Industries, as it prepares to offer 4G services starting December.
Mobile phone carriers in India, the world's second-biggest market by number of customers, have spent billions of dollars on buying telecom airwaves to meet surging demand for voice and data services.
RCom, India's fourth-biggest mobile phone carrier by subscribers, will enter into a "strategic partnership" with Reliance Jio, allowing for trading and sharing of 4G airwaves, Chairman Anil Ambani said at the telecom company's annual general meeting on Wednesday.
4G services typically offer customers faster browsing speeds than 3G services while surfing the web through mobile phones, tablets or laptops.
A proliferation of cheap smartphones has prompted more Indians to use handsets to access the Internet and demand faster downloads. An Internet-based startup boom in the country has also seen increased adaptability on smartphones, bolstering the demand for high-speed data.
RCom was also at an "advanced stage of merger talks" with the India telecom operations of Russian billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's Sistema conglomerate, Anil Ambani said.