Supreme Court has quashed a PIL against Reliance Jio s plans to launch 4G services in India. The PIL, filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), had alleged irregularities in the process of 4G spectrum acquisition by Reliance Jio. It also alleged that Jio had been given licence for mobile data services and not for VoIP services. Also Read - Jio 5G launch event: How to watch livestream, JioPhone 5G, Jio laptop, other expected announcementsAlso Read - Jio 5G service: Reliance Jio, Intel partner to develop 5G network for India
The PIL said that Reliance Jio was granted the VoLTE licence for a nominal fee. The Supreme Court didn t pass any order but asked the government to look into spectrum usage charge. The PIL had cited a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that described the licence acquisition as rigged auction. Also Read - Reliance Jio introduces chatbot to answer questions regarding its 5G phone, laptop and more
According to the CAG, Reliance Jio had caused about Rs 3,367 crore loss to national exchequer. It may be recalled that Reliance Jio had secured pan-India 4G licence in 2013 and also gained licence for providing voice calls on the 4G network. The telecom department had opposed CAG s claims stating rules for 3G and BWA didn t restrict winners from providing voice services on the network.
Questions were raised on the process of licence acquisition by Reliance. Originally Infotel Broadband Services Ltd (IBSL) had won 4G licences in all 22 circles in 2010. But Reliance Industries bought 95 percent stake in IBSL for Rs 4,800 crore to acquire the licences. Later IBSL was renamed as Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) in 2013.
The Supreme Court s decision to quash the four-year-old PIL is going to be a huge respite for Reliance Jio, which is reportedly planning to conduct a soft launch of its 4G services later this month. According to reports, Reliance Jio will fully roll out its 4G services by end of this year. The service provider has already shipped 4G enabled SIMs to Reliance Digital stores. Moreover, Reliance s digital arm is already selling VoLTE enabled smartphones under LYF brand.
The development comes weeks after Reliance Jio and Reliance Communications (RCom) entered into an agreement to share spectrum and infrastructure. According to recent reports, RCom will be updating its about 5 million CDMA users to Reliance Jio s 4G network.