Reliance Industries Ltd may launch its much-talked about 4G telecom and high-speed broadband services in a couple of months and is likely to net $1 billion revenue in the current fiscal, Morgan Stanley said in a research note.
The company management while announcing the FY16 earnings “suggested RJio launch in a couple of months with bull and bear cases of the next 3 to 9 months”, it said.
“We are estimating launch in early 2H (second half) 2016; however, if the launch gets delayed to late 2H2016, it would mean incumbents could have a better operating environment in the short term,” it added.
Reliance Jio Infocomm’s current test programme is to be upgraded into commercial operation in the coming months, implying that the firm “would already have a couple of million subscribers into the launch”, it said.
Reliance has so far spent $19 billion on the telecom venture.
In December last year, Reliance Jio Infocomm launched services for its employees, partners and vendors on a trial basis. It currently has 0.56 million users on its network with average monthly data usage per user at 18 GB.
“We estimate RJio will have about 30 million subscribers by FY2017 and 60 million by FY2018…clocking in over $1 billion revenues in FY2017,” it said.
The company suggested the network roll-out is substantially complete. “Management suggested capex will be front-ended and plans to spend Rs 30,000 crore, or $4.5 billion, in FY2017 which would include adding fibre, towers, small sells and payments for RCOM spectrum sharing/trading.”
It has 2.7 lakh km of fibre, 90,000 tower and 50,000 small cells and intends to add another 30,000 km of fibre, over 10,000 towers and double the small cells in FY2017, thus reaching 90 per cent of the population.
“It has also launched a new 8,100 km cable system. Capex is seen eventually declining to 6 per cent to 8 per cent of sales. We continue to build capex of 15 per cent in the longer term,” Morgan Stanley said.
However, if the Reliance Jio Infocomm launch is delayed to late the second half of this year, “we think Bharti Airtel is best positioned to gain. It is spending annually $2.5 billion in domestic wireless capex and by far has the highest 4G coverage among the incumbents launch”, it said.