India’s wealthiest man, Mukesh Ambani, has a plan to build a 4G network. Ambani is chairman of Reliance Industries and in 2010, he sent out a memo detailing the plans to firm executives. The project would cost more than $10 billion and is designed to cover most of India—700 cities to start. One hundred of those would be listed as high priority markets.
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Tens of thousands of new cell towers would have to be erected. Reliance has spent over $3 billion to purchase a radio spectrum covering most of the country and plans to build a super speed fiber optic network providing TV access.
Those watching the development say that plans are still uncertain and could still evolve. Ambani is the 55-year-old son of Reliance’s founder whose success was a rags to riches story. Reliance originally was a polyester textile maker. The younger Ambani morphed the company into an energy and petrochemicals behemoth.
The network would be the largest single network outside the US and Japan. Estimates are that India will have more subscribers over the next four years than Russia, Indonesia, or Brazil. China also has plans to roll out a 4G network but so far, has not produced any commercial 4G access.
Reliance’s plans include large data centers that would be used to host cloud-based web services
for businesses. The company is the only company at this point that owns a nationwide wireless broadband license but competition is expected to catch up and to be fierce. The license mandates that at least 50% of rural areas have access by 2015.