Reliance Jio Said to Set August Deadline for Public Debut

  • Jio said to be integrating spectrum in mobile-phone network
  • Services’s commercial rollout has previously missed deadlines

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. plans to introduce its mobile-phone service to the public by August after missing multiple internal deadlines, according to people familiar with the matter.

Its Reliance Jio unit is operating services for a limited number of users on a trial basis, integrating spectrum and testing the network in anticipation of making it available to the public in July or August, the people said, asking not to be identified as they aren’t authorized to speak to media. Jio has missed target dates before, including a public pledge by Ambani, India’s richest person, to roll out the service by December 2015, according to three of the people.

A Reliance Jio representative declined to comment.

Pressure is building for engineers to finish preparations soon because Ambani plans to announce a firm deadline at Reliance Industries annual general meeting later this year, two of the people said.

“A few months do not materially change our view for such a large project,” said Mehul Sukkawala, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings, which said May 31 that it expected the company to begin commercial operations over the next six months. “An early launch is always good as it enables the company to start generating cash flows from its telecom investments and thereby contribute to earnings.”

Shares of Reliance Industries’ rose 0.9 percent to 984.60 rupees at the close in Mumbai. Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s biggest carrier, gained 2.7 percent to 351.90 rupees.

India’s crowded mobile-phone market, the world’s largest after China, has been bracing for Ambani to shake up the industry by offering low-cost, high-speed mobile Internet. Reliance has invested $22 billion in telecommunications to diversify away from energy and into more consumer-focused businesses in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

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