India’s Richest Man Plans Huge 4G Wireless Network

In December 2010, Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, circulated a 36-page handwritten memo to executives that spelled out his plans to build one of the world’s most advanced telecommunications networks.

The memo, which has been reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, described a fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless service with “99.999%” network availability; “integration with an app store, ours or others” to help smartphone users order fast food or buy movie tickets; sourcing of mobile devices from China and Taiwan; content delivery to “3 screens,” cellphones, laptops and TVs; and two 300,000-square-foot data centers.

Nearly two years later, Mr. Ambani, chairman of the energy conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd., is putting some of those plans in motion in the hopes of vaulting India to the forefront of wireless broadband technology and bringing millions of Indians online for the first time. But the project has already hit a few early roadblocks, and success is far from guaranteed.

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