Bharti and Reliance Jio sign infrastructure sharing deal

Indian operators Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm have announced an infrastructure sharing agreement. The two will share their inter and intra city fibre networks, submarine cable networks, towers and internet broadband services. They added that they will also look for other opportunities to share assets in the future.

The firms said that by sharing infrastructure, they aim to avoid duplication of assets wherever possible and preserve capital and the environment. Network sharing will also provide redundancy, which will help ensure a seamless service to customers of both operators, they said.

The operators also hinted that they are looking to extend the agreement to roaming on 2G, 3G and 4G in the future.

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As part of the arrangement, Bharti has also provided capacity on its i2i submarine cable to Reliance Jio.

Bharti Infratel, a subsidiary of Bharti, has 35,376 towers in 11 telecom circles across India. The subsidiary also has a 42 per cent equity interest in Indus Towers, which in turn has 112,144 towers in 15 telecom Circles across India.

In August this year, Singaporean incumbent operator Singtel announced it would up its stake in India’s Bharti Telecom to 39.78 per cent, taking its effective interest in Bharti Airtel to 32.34 per cent. Singtel paid S$383.6m for 788,538 Bharti Telecom shares. Prior to that, in May, the operator sold a stake in its business to Qatar Foundation Endowment (QFE).  The Qatari investment group acquired five per cent, almost 200 million new shares, of Airtel for $1.26bn.

Reliance Jio Infocomm is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries and holds a Universal Service License. The firm said it is the only pan India operator with Broadband Wireless Access spectrum across 22 circles capable of offering LTE services.  The operator is currently setting up a pan India telecom infrastructure to provide high speed internet and communication services.

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