Ambani brothers draw battle lines over 4G in India

01 October 2014 |


India’s tempestuous Ambani brothers are set to battle for 4G market share in 2015 after Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group announced plans to launch a 4G mobile offering next year.

Reliance Group will now directly compete with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, which is also planning the launch of a 4G service in 2015.

At an annual company meeting this week, Anil Ambani revealed plans to acquire spectrum for 4G services, and plans to use Reliance Group’s mobile division – Reliance Communications – for the launch.

Rival player Reliance Industries has invested nearly $12 billion in its telecoms unit over the past few years and plans to launch 4G services in early 2015.

The Ambani brothers shared a tumultuous relationship until 2010, when the pair seemingly made peace.

Sanjay Mashruwala, MD at Reliance Jio – the mobile arm of Reliance Industries – said that the company is continuing its efforts to create a new-age network for the delivery of innovative digital solutions.

“We are building our network through a combination of infrastructure network that we are creating on our own and those that we are renting from quality partners,” Mashruwala said.

In 2013, Reliance Communications partnered with Reliance Industries, spending an estimated $221 million to use its optical fibre network for its 4G service.

As well as fears that Anil’s plan to implement 4G services may restart unwelcome competition, market watchers are also concerned over Reliance Communications’ financial capabilities.

“The worry is that he [Anil Ambani] is going to have to invest a lot in a new 4G network, and that he does not have the balance sheet to do that,” one analyst told the Financial Times.

Bharti Airtel was the first to offer 4G services in India, followed by Aircel in July this year.