Reliance Industries Ltd.’s Jio telecom unit, which cornered almost half of all the airwaves sold at the government’s recent auction of wireless spectrum for introducing 5G services with bids amounting to more than ₹88,000 crore, plans to start rolling out its 5G services in October.
While speaking at Reliance Industries’ 45th annual general meeting, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said Jio will roll out 5G services across India by December 2023.
“To build our pan-India true 5G network, we have committed a total investment of ₹2 lakh crore. Jio has prepared the fastest ever and most ambitious 5G rollout plan for a country of our size. Within the next two months. That is by Diwali, we will launch Jio 5G across multiple key cities including metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata,” he said.
Mr. Ambani said the company was working with Google to introduce an “ultra-affordable” 5G smartphone, without providing any further details.
“To take the 5G mass market, a sub-$100 phone is imperative and Jio is rightly positioned to bring 5G to the masses,” said Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint.
Stating that Jio’s digital service offering had made strong progress with a pan-India fibre-optic network of more than 11 lakh route kilometres, Mr. Ambani said Jio’s aim was to help lift India’s global ranking in fixed broadband adoption to among the top 10.
Announcing the introduction of JioAirFiber, which would allow customers to enjoy fibre-like data speeds over the air without any wires, he said Jio had developed a JioAirFiber Home Gateway, a wireless, simple, single-device solution to have a Wi-Fi hotspot in a home that would be connected to ultra-high-speed Internet using 5G.
“With single device JioAirFiber, it will be really easy to quickly connect any home or office to Gigabit-speed Internet. With the simplicity of JioAirFiber, hundreds of millions of homes and offices can be connected to ultra-high-speed broadband in a very short period. With it, India can rank among the top-10 nations, even for fixed broadband,” he said.
Jio’s ambitious 5G plans are in line with the company’s broad strategy that saw it disrupt the telecom market with low-price data plans that triggered a price war in 2016, forcing rivals including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to cut their tariffs or risk losing market share.
Mr. Ambani also said RIL would spend ₹75,000 crore for expanding its Oil to Chemicals (O2C) capacities and reiterated plans to invest ₹75,000 crore in the New Energy business.
Mr. Ambani reiterated that Reliance’s capital allocation and financial framework were based on capturing opportunities in identified growth areas, while maintaining optimal capital structure and superior investment-grade ratings. He also spelt t the company’s global ambitions to emerge as a significant player in the international markets.
In its New Energy business, Mr. Ambani said Reliance would set up a new Giga Factory for power electronics.
“Affordable and reliable power electronics is a critical component to the entire value chain of Green Energy. The design and manufacturing capabilities in power electronics and associated software systems will integrate with RIL’s capabilities of Telecommunications, Cloud Computing and IoT platform,” he added.
Besides Solar and Hydrogen, Reliance is also actively progressing on bio-energy, offshore wind, geo-thermal and other non-conventional forms of renewable energy, and will continue to expand its manufacturing ecosystem accordingly, he said.
RIL’s New Energy business would help India become a net exporter of energy, Mr. Ambani asserted, adding it would make India a world leader in new energy manufacturing and a ‘credible alternative’ to China.
Isha Ambani, director, Reliance Retail Ventures announced that this year, Reliance Retail would enter fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) business, with an objective to ‘develop and deliver high quality, affordable products.
She also announced the roll out of a WhatsApp chat service for placing orders at JioMart. Meta, a Facebook group company and Jio Platforms on Monday unveiled the first-ever end-to-end shopping experience on WhatsApp, where consumers can shop from JioMart within their WhatsApp chat.
A global first, JioMart on WhatsApp will enable users in India, including those who have never shopped online before, to seamlessly browse through JioMart’s entire grocery catalog, add items to cart, and make the payment to complete the purchase — all without leaving the WhatsApp chat.
Mr. Ambani also announced that his youngest son Anant Ambani had taken responsibility at the New Energy business.
“Reliance’s next-gen leaders are confidently taking over the reins across businesses. Akash and Isha have assumed leadership roles in Jio and Retail, respectively. Anant has joined New Energy business. They are part of a young team of leaders and professionals who are already doing amazing things at Reliance,” Mr. Ambani said.
All of them were being mentored on a daily basis by RIL’s senior leaders, he added.
Jio partners with Qualcomm
The company has partnered with Qualcomm to develop 5G solutions, Mr. Ambani said. He said the firm is partnering with Google to develop ultra-affordable 5G smartphones and Google Cloud.
It has now forged a collaboration with Qualcomm to develop a 5G solution for India, which can be taken to the rest of the world, he said.
(With PTI inputs)