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Reliance Jio Infocomm signs $1.2 billion BTS deal with South Korean giant Samsung
Not content at being the top dog in the mobile handset category, South Korean behemoth Samsung is hoping to make new in-roads in the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) category.

A BTS is a piece of equipment that aids wireless telecommunication between user equipment (UE) and a network;In simple terms, mobile phones, Wi-Fi, satellite calling cards, etc all use these. Another great aspect is that BTS's support a variety of wireless technologies like GSM, CDMA, CDMA, wireless local loop or a Wide Area Network (WAN).

In India, Samsung is poised to enter the market with fellow new entrant, Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL). Mukesh Ambani owned RJIL has been turning heads with its ambitious expansion plans and rollout of its 4G network in India. Samsung has signed its first contract to supply active BTS infrastructure for RJIL's 4G.

The decision to go with Samsung is somewhat of a departure from the so-called traditional powerhouses of BTS - Nokia, Siemens Networks and Ericsson, all of whom are among the market leaders in the BTS segment.

This contract comes on the back of a deal signed between Samsung and RJIL wherein the Korean manufacturer will be responsible for a rollout of 4G handsets which will boast of the first voice calling 4G facility on voice over LTE (VoLTE). People familiar with this story said that the deal is for 70,000 stations all over India (as RJIL has a pan-India 4G license) and is worth a staggering $1.2 billion or Rupees 7,500 crore.

At the start of December 2013, about 14,000 or 20% of these stations have already been handed over to RJIL. At this point though, it's not clear whether Samsung sees this as an exclusive partnership with Reliance Industries (RIL) owned RJIL or if it wants to ink deals like this with other operators. It is expected that other operators, like Airtel (The only operator who has launched 4G in India) will either use their own towers or source them from Indus - the largest tower company in India.

RJIL's fibre optic laying across the country is going to plan; however, it has been postponing its 4G launch, which is now expected to start rolling out in Guwahati and further in the North East via Kolkata within the next two months. Samsung is believed, will supply 1400 BTS or 2% of the total stations to this region.

Also, Reliance Jio Infocomm was expected to do a soft launch in Mumbai and Delhi this December, but this was postponed with the 2G auction scheduled to take place in March. Some analysts believe that apart from the 4G launch in March, RJIL could also look to make an entry in the 2G space.

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