Reliance Jio became the largest wireline player in the country in 2022, and made considerable progress in its 5G network roll-out. Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries Limited, spoke about the company’s key focus areas, 5G services, strategic partnerships, and future plans and objectives at various industry events during the year. Edited excerpts from his addresses…
Jio’s market leadership
Jio maintained its market leadership for the third year in a row through fiscal year 2021-22. Jio’s consumer offerings, including service quality and value, continued to remain the best in class, which helped in the addition of over 130 million customers during the year. Subscriber churn at the lower end has resulted in Jio improving its user engagement matrix, such as data and voice consumption per user, to a record high level. Jio has the largest single-country subscriber base and carries the highest volume of data traffic globally, excluding China. Over the past year, Jio has also consolidated its position as India’s number one digital service provider.
The year saw Jio emerge as the leader in fibre-based wireline broadband connectivity. We also saw an acceleration in the adoption of JioFiber, with two out of every three new customers choosing it. JioFiber is now the number one fibre-to-the-x service provider in India, with over 7 million connected premises – a feat achieved in less than two years, despite Covid-19 lockdowns. The devices powering JioFiber in Indian homes are working on the Jio operating system – Jio OS – which has a rich set of capabilities and customisation options.
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 over 1.1 million km in length.
In spite of this strong growth, India lags behind the rest of the world in fixed broadband services. With only 20 million connections, India is ranked a low 138 in the world in fixed broadband adoption. Jio will change this. We will launch India into the top 10 in fixed broadband adoption.
5G spectrum auction
In 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. And we are able to seamlessly combine these frequencies into a single powerful data highway, using an advanced technology called carrier aggregation.
Jio True 5G
Jio 5G will be True 5G in every sense. 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.
The three fold advantage of standalone (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.
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 small 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 our 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 Industry 4.0. 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, beating China and the US.
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 the metaverse. 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.
Efforts towards indigenisation
We have indigenously developed an end-to-end 5G stack, which is fully cloud native, software defined and digitally managed, with support for advanced features such as quantum security. 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 owners’ economics.
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 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 such as 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 in 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.
Jio is working relentlessly to make India “2G-mukt”, so that even the poorest of the poor can enjoy the benefits of digital connectivity. The progress of telecom technology is making inefficient 2G obsolete. The Jio revolution, since 2016, has already lowered 4G tariffs to below 2G tariffs in India. However, handset affordability has proven a major hurdle for over 250 million Indians, preventing a transition to digital networks. To overcome this hurdle, Jio launched JioPhone Next, the world’s most affordable full-touchscreen 4G phone, in collaboration with Google. The phone runs on Pragati OS, a specially optimised version of Google’s Android OS.
Digital connectivity solutions
Jio Platforms, our digital services arm, has been building capabilities spanning 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.
The way forward
Jio 4G, JioFiber and now Jio 5G are uniquely positioned to deliver the best quality, highest value digital connectivity solutions to our nation. Jio is committed to delivering 5G to every town, every taluka and every tehsil of our country by December 2023.