Why LTE – Voice Fallback Crucial for Reliance Jio ?

Few countries offer both TD and FDD simultaneously – US and Sweden are the two markets. LTE ecosystem is well developed across multiple bands ranging from 800/900/1800/1900/2100/2500/2600MHz. In fact, 2300MHz doesn’t appear to be a very popular band amongst the sample set of 18 countries.

LTE was launched on an average seven years after 3G launch and when data contribution to revenue averaged ~27%. Assuming Reliance Jio’s launch by end of CY15, the data contribution in India would be ~20%. While it may seem slightly early, we believe the key is the development of the right ecosystem (affordable handsets are the key). LTE launch in China (2014) has helped.

Voice continues to be offered either on the traditional 2G/3G network or VoLTE. The emerging Asian markets continue to use offer voice on 2G/3G networks. This should not be an issue for the incumbent players that have their existing networks. However, the situation is different for Reliance Jio.

Network quality and coverage is more important than pricing, especially for a premium service such as LTE. Reliance Jio needs traditional voice as fallback option, as using just VoLTE or VoIP will not be sufficient. VoLTE is a new technology currently used in developed markets such as Singapore, Korea, Western Europe and the US. The early stage of the technology can be seen from the fact that even a country such as Taiwan currently doesn’t offer VoLTE.

It will be interesting to watch on the probability of the per-user data consumption rising in India given it is already at ~600MB. Our sample set shows that the usage can rise substantially. The global experience has been that data consumption tends to rise both with time and with higher speeds.