Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)

Reliance Jio has strengthened its leadership position in the telecom industry. Its vision is to transform India with the power of the digital revolution while keeping services affordable for millions of consumers. Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), spoke about Jio’s key focus areas, strategic partnerships, 5G services and future objectives at RIL’s 45th annual general meeting held recently. Edited excerpts from his address…

Over the past year, Jio has further consolidated its position as India’s number one digital service provider. Today, Jio has 421 million mobile broadband subscribers on our 4G network. Th­e­se subscribers consume, on average, nearly 20 GB of broadband data every month, nearly doubling their consumption from the year before.

Further, some phenomenal accomp­li­sh­ments under the Digital India vision such as Aadhar, Jan-Dhan and Start-up In­dia became possible because Jio built a wo­rld-class 4G digital infrastructure at the right time, with sufficient capacity, and of­f­ered it at the most affordable price.

Fixed line network

Jio’s high-quality, redundant and always-available fibre optic network is the information backbone that carries data traffic from every corner of India and connects it to the global internet. Today, Jio’s pan-India fibre optic network is more than 11,00,000 kilometres in length.

Over the past year, we also saw an ac­c­eleration in the adoption of JioFiber, with two out of every three new customers ch­o­o­sing it. JioFiber is now the leading fibre-to-the-x (FTTX) service provider in India, with over 7 million connected pre­mises, a feat achieved in less than two years despite Covid-19 lockdowns.

5G objectives

Using 5G technology, we can dramatically reduce latency or lag, and deliver breakthrough increases in broadband speed, network capacity and the number of connected users. With Jio 5G, we can achieve three objectives:

  • We can build on the success of Jio 4G by introducing an even more advanced version of mobile broadband.
  • We can accelerate the roll-out of top quality, highly affordable fixed broadband services to hundreds of millions of locations in a very short period of time.
  • We can use this vastly expanded broadband availability to further stimulate the adoption of connected intelligent solutions across all walks of life.

Specifically, we will connect over 100 mi­llion homes with unparalleled digital experiences and smart home solutions. We will catapult tens of millions of small merchants and businesses to great heights, em­powering them with cutting-edge, pl­ug-and-play solutions delivered from the cloud. We will provide millions of medium businesses with the same digital capabilities that were earlier available only to larger companies. We will accelerate the digital transformation of tens of thousands of large enterprises and make them globally competitive. And we will launch billions of smart sensors with connected intelligence that will trigger internet of things (IoT) and fuel the fourth industrial revolution. With Jio 5G, we will connect everyone, every place and everything with the highest quality and most affordable data.

In addition to meeting India’s needs, we are confident of offering digital solutions to global markets. At Jio, we are en­ergised by this vision, and we are committed to making India the largest data-powered economy in the world. Jio 5G will be the world’s largest and most advan­ced 5G network.

Building SA 5G network

Most operators are deploying a version of 5G, called non-standalone (NSA) 5G, which is essentially a 5G radio signal delivered over an existing 4G infrastructure. In contrast, Jio will deploy the latest version of 5G, called standalone (SA) 5G, which has zero dependency on our 4G network. With SA 5G, Jio can deliver new and powerful services such as low latency connectivity, massive machine-to-machine communication, 5G voice, edge computing and network slicing, and metaverse. Jio 5G will be true 5G in every sense, and I be­lieve that India deserves nothing less than true 5G.

At the recent auction conducted by the Department of Telecommunications, we acquired the largest and the most appropriate mix of wireless spectrum for 5G. This gives Jio 5G a distinct competitive advantage over other operators. In addition to the 3500 MHz mid-band, which is globally earmarked for 5G, and the 26 GHz millimetre-wave band for ultra-high capacity, only Jio has the 700 MHz low-band spectrum, which is essential for deep indoor coverage. We are able to seamlessly combine these frequencies into a single powerful “data highway”, using an advanced te­ch­nology, called carrier aggregation.

This three-fold advantage of SA 5G architecture, the largest and best mix of spectrum, and carrier aggregation means that Jio 5G will be able to offer an unparalleled combination of coverage, capacity, quality and affordability. We are also wo­rking very closely with all leading global smartphone original equipment manufacturers, and we have their commitment that they will support Jio’s true 5G.

5G roll-out plans

5G cannot remain an exclusive service, available only to the privileged few, or only to those in our largest cities. To build our pan-India true 5G network, we have committed a total investment of Rs 2 trillion. Jio has prepared an ambitious 5G roll-out plan, which will be the fastest in the world.

Within the next two months, by Di­wali, we will launch Jio 5G across multiple key cities, including the metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Sub­sequently, we plan to increase the Jio 5G footprint month after month. By Dec­ember 2023, which is less than 18 months from today, we will deliver Jio 5G to every town, taluka and tehsil of our country. We will use our combined wireless and wireline assets to cover 3.3 million square kilometres, India’s total land mass, with fibre-quality broadband, connecting even those parts of the country where satellite technology was the only option.

We have indigenously developed an end-to-end 5G stack, which is fully cloud-native, software-defined and digitally ma­na­ged, with support for even advanced features like quantum security. This is fully developed in-house by our 2,000-plus young­ Jio engineers. We have already dep­loyed this made-in-India 5G stack in our network, with sufficient capacity to serve hundreds of millions of users right from day one. Furthermore, Jio 5G is uniquely positioned to offer captive or private 5G solutions for Indian enterprises at the ow­ner’s economics.

Strategic collaborations

We are also privileged to have some of the world’s leading technology players as our partners in our “Made in India” 5G collaboration. We are excited to work with Meta in realising our vision of bringing the benefits of immersive technology to everyone. We believe India’s vibrant digital ecosystem will play a critical role in shaping the metaverse and bring new possibilities in education, healthcare and commerce 4.0.

We are working with Google to develop ultra-affordable 5G smartphones for India. We will also leverage the advanced capabilities of Google Cloud to offer Jio’s Private 5G stack and other 5G-enabled so­lutions to both domestic and global users at scale.

We are partnering with Microsoft to expand the Azure ecosystem in India and to develop a vibrant ecosystem of cloud-en­abled business applications and solutions, especially for small and medium businesses.

We are working with Intel on technologies used in Jio’s cloud-scale data centres and 5G Edge locations, as well as in infrastructure for cutting-edge applications like artificial intelligence (AI). Fur­th­er, we have well-established relationships with leading global network technology providers such as Ericsson, Nokia, Sam­sung and Cisco.

I am pleased to announce one more exciting partnership with Qualcomm, which is not only a global semiconductor and communications technology major but also one of the valued investors of Jio Plat­forms. I am confident that the solutions developed jointly by Qualcomm and Jio, once proven in India, can be taken to the rest of the world.

Digital capabilities

Jio Platforms, our digital services arm, has been quietly building capabilities that span the entire digital solutions ecosystem. And we are strengthening our expertise by att­racting the best global talent across all key digital technologies such as smart de­vices, cloud and edge computing, big data, AI, IoT, robotics, blockchain, and au­g­mented reality.

These capabilities are not just powering breakthrough scaling of all of our own businesses but also equipping us to spearhead India’s transformation into a leading digital society. India can lead the world with digital solutions that solve humanity’s biggest problems in education, healthcare, agriculture, governance and sustainable development.

In sum

Jio 4G, JioFiber, and now Jio 5G, are uni­quely positioned to deliver the best quality, highest value digital connectivity solutions to our nation.

New India is poised to become one of the top three economies in the world, with a size that can be four or five times bigger in the next few decades. India’s rising prosperity will create almost limitless multi-de­cade growth opportunities for Reliance.