India's Reliance Industries, Bharti sign telecom infrastructure deal

Reuters

MUMBAI, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Indian conglomerate RelianceIndustries, set to launch 4G services into the highlycompetitive Indian telecoms market, has signed a deal with thecountry's largest telecoms operator Bharti Airtel, toshare telecom infrastructure.

The two companies will share inter and intra-city opticfibre network, submarine cable networks, towers and internetbroadband services.

The arrangement may be extended in future to roamingservices on 2G, 3G and 4G platforms, and any other mutuallybenefiting areas relating to telecommunication, the twocompanies said.

"The cooperation is aimed at avoiding duplication ofinfrastructure, wherever possible, and to preserve capital andthe environment," Bharti said in a statement.

The financial details of the agreement were not disclosed,but an identical statement by both companies said the pricingwould be at "arm's length, based on prevailing market rates".

Reliance Industries, controlled by India's richest manMukesh Ambani, plans to roll out a nationwide 4G network as partof its foray into telecoms. The company's unit Reliance JioInfocomm won airwaves in 2010, but is yet to start commercialservices.

The company already holds an agreement to lease underseacable capacity from Bharti. It has also signed deals with rivalReliance Communications, controlled by Mukesh'syounger brother Anil Ambani, for sharing mobile towerinfrastructure and optic fibre network.

Bharti, which will compete with Reliance Jio in the wirelessbroadband business, has already launched 4G networks in someIndian cities. The telecoms major, nearly a third owned bySoutheast Asia's SingTel, in October bought outQualcomm Inc's stake in a 4G broadband joint venture totake full control.

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