Reliance Industries on Wednesday (July 15) said Jio has developed a Made-in-India 5G solution that can be ready for field deployment next year, and has teamed up with Google for developing affordable smartphones.
Asserting Jio’s resolve to make India “2G-mukt” (free of 2G), RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani emphasised on the need to accelerate migration of 350 million Indians (currently using 2G feature phone) to an affordable smartphone, at a time when India stands at the doorsteps of the 5G era.
Ambani also announced ₹33,737 crore investment by Google for a 7.7 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, and said Jio will be partnering with the US tech giant to build an Android-based smartphone operating system.
Addressing RIL’s 43rd AGM, Ambani said, “There are many feature phone users who are waiting… to upgrade to a conventional smartphone… if only it were somehow more affordable. So, we have decided to address this challenge head-on. We believe we can design entry-level 4G… or even 5G smartphone… for a fraction of its current cost.”
However, powering such a smartphone would require value-engineered smartphone operating system, one that is designed with India in mind, he emphasised.
“Through this partnership, we are confident that we can accelerate the national mission of putting a smart device in the hands of every Indian. As India is standing at the doorsteps of the 5G era, we should accelerate the migration of 350 million Indians, who currently use a 2G feature phone, to an affordable smartphone,” he said.
They should not be deprived of the benefits of the digital and data revolution, he added.
Outlining the company’s 5G plans, Ambani said that Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch and that once this 5G solution is proven at India scale, Jio Platforms will be well-positioned to export it to other operators globally too, as a completely-managed service.
“In the next three years, I can see a strong path for Jio to connect over half a billion mobile customers, over a billion smart sensors, and over 50 million homes and business establishments…” Ambani said.
Jio’s 4G and fibre networks are powered by core software technology and components developed by Jio engineers in India, he said.
This capabilty and know-how positions Jio at the cutting-edge of exciting frontier of 5G technology.
“I have great pride in announcing that Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. This will enable us to launch a world-class 5G service in India using a 100 per cent homegrown technology and solution,” he said.
This Made-in-India 5G solution will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available, and can be ready for field deployment next year.
“Because of Jio’s converged all-IP network architecture, we can easily uprade our 4G network to 5G,” he said.
Once Jio’s 5G solution is proven at India scale, Jio Platforms will be well-positioned to be exporter of 5G solutions to other telcos globally.
“Jio platform is conceived with this vision of developing original, captive Intellectual Property, using which we can demonstrate transformative power of tech across multiple industry ecosytems. First, in India and then confidently offering these Made-in-India solutions to the rest of the world,” he said.
Commenting on the new partnership, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, “Through this partnership with Jio Platforms, we see the chance to have an even greater impact than either company could have alone. This partnership is a key part of the next chapter of investment in India… Our investment of USD 4.5 billion in Jio is the first — and the biggest — investment we will make through this fund (of USD 10 billion announced on July 13).”
Earlier this week, the company had announced its Google for India Digitisation Fund, wherein it will invest ₹75,000 crore rupees (about USD 10 billion) to accelerate India’s digital economy over the next 5-7 years.
“I am excited that our joint collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of Indians who don’t currently own a smartphone, while improving the mobile experience for all… there is more work to do to connect every Indian to the opportunities that technology creates,” Pichai said.
In a blogpost, Google said it has entered into a commercial agreement with Jio Platforms to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimisations to the Android operating system and the play store.
This effort will unlock new opportunities, further power the vibrant ecosystem of applications and push innovation to drive growth for the new Indian economy, it added.
Google said it wants to work with Jio and other leaders in the local ecosystem to ensure that smartphones — together with the apps and services in the Play Store — are within reach for many more Indians across the country.
“And we believe the pace of Indian innovation means that the experiences we create for India can ultimately be expanded to the rest of the world,” the blogpost noted.
The global tech titan said India has been “central” to its Next Billion Users initiative that is designed to ensure the internet is useful for people coming online for the first time.
“In partnership (with Jio), we can draw on each others strengths. We look forward to bringing smartphone access to more Indians — and exploring the many ways we can work together to improve Indians’ lives and advance India’s digital economy,” the blog said.