In a country’s digital journey, it may be impossible to single out a private player to usher in massive change. But in India’s telecom history, you can set the calendar as it was pre-Jio and post-Jio. For the company run by Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Jio) it has had a notable impact in the five years of its existence.
Just consider these numbers: at the time Reliance Jio was launched on September 5, 2016, India had over 1.02 billion mobile users. It was the 12th mobile telecommunications player on the market at the time. So far, there are practically only 4 players in the fray now (Airtel, Jio, Vodafone and the state-owned BSNL), but the number of subscribers has risen to over 1.14 billion (June number). Jio, with 36% market share, is the number one player now. It is also the largest provider of home broadband services and now plans to reach 100 million homes by providing fixed wireless access following the launch of its 5G service. It also raised $20.6 billion by selling about a 33% stake to 13 investors worldwide, including Google and Meta.
How prepared is Jio for the 5G journey?
But all eyes are now on the much-anticipated 5G services, which are due to launch in India in October. 5G is expected to account for nearly 40% of mobile subscriptions in India – 500 million – by the end of 2027. By the end of 2027, smartphone users in India are expected to consume 50GB of data per month on average. Furthermore, 5G is likely to make Indian mobile service providers generate $17 billion in incremental enterprise revenue by 2030.
So the question is, can Jio lead India’s leap into the 5G arena.
The answer is not so easy as much depends on the cost of 5G data services in a price sensitive market like India. Jio has become the disruptive force because of its aggressive and market-friendly pricing. If Jio continues her cost the same way, she can deliver a similar blow.
In terms of technology and investment, Jio has already prepared. The company has already announced that it will launch true 5G services in India via standalone 5G, with no fallback to 4G infrastructure. This is expected to provide all the benefits of hyperspeed, low latency and high capacity.
Jio has also committed Rs 2 lakh crore for the phased launch of pan-India 5G within just 18 months. Mukesh Ambani, at the company’s recent AGM, said that Jio’s 18-month timeframe for rolling out 5G to all corners of India will be the fastest 5G rollout worldwide. He claimed that Jio 5G will connect even those parts of the country where satellite technology was the only option.
Jio conducted field tests of its home 5G stack and its 5G coverage planning was completed in the top 1,000 cities based on targeted customer consumption and revenue potential. Jio’s 5G stack is 100% homemade and a comprehensive 5G solution that is fully cloud-native, software-defined, and digitally managed. Jio has entered into a strategic partnership with Google for its cloud solutions to power the 5G experience of Indian businesses and consumers.
Given this, Jio seems ready to embark on the 5G journey and open up another new path. But challenges remain.