Reliance Industries, India’s second largest corporation by market capitalisation, had launched its 4G telecom service, Reliance Jio in September 2016 (refer Grassroots Q1 2017). Reliance Jio within a period of 22 months has a customer base of 215 million, a record no other telecom company has been able to achieve anywhere in the world. In a short period of time, Reliance Jio is the world’s largest mobile data network with monthly data usage of 2.4 bn GBs, video consumption of 3.4 bn hours per month and voice usage of 5.3 bn minutes per day. Despite the large user base of 215 million customers, Reliance Jio’s capacity utilisation is less than 20%, which means that the company can multiply its customer base without any additional investment and is well placed to achieve its target of 99% population coverage with 4G LTE.  Reliance Jio offers data services with a usage limit of 2 GBs of data per day at less than AU$ 3.6 per month.

Reliance Jio’s handset ‘JIOPHONE’, a smart phone offered at a fully refundable deposit of AU$30 has more than 25 million users. Reliance Jio plans to make its handset more affordable by offering JIOPHONE at AU$10 by exchanging it with the customer’s existing feature phone. The company plans to launch JIOPHONE2 in Aug’18 with additional features at a cost of AU$60.  Reliance JIO plans to acquire 100 million customers for JIOPHONE in the shortest possible time.

Reliance Jio also plans to rollout fibre based fixed line broadband connectivity solutions to homes, merchants, small and medium enterprise and large enterprises simultaneously across 1,100 cities in India from Aug’18. The fixed line broadband service would offer hundreds of megabits and even gigabits per second of data speeds and would be the largest greenfield fixed line broadband rollout anywhere in the world. The broadband service would be termed as JIO GIGAFIBER. JIO GIGAFIBER aims at taking India to be among the top 5 in fixed line broadband connectivity from the present 134thrank globally.

Our View

Reliance Jio disrupted the Indian telecom industry within a short period of time (22 months) by offering voice calls, mobile data access and handsets at very low prices, enabling millions of Indians to enjoy the power of the digital revolution. The move to reduce the prices of handsets even further (to AU$ 10) will accelerate the process of technology adoption and potentially every Indian will be able to access the internet and enjoy the Digital life in a few years.

The offering of fixed line connectivity with high speed will take the digital experience in India to the next level. Home users will be able to watch ultra-high definition entertainment on TV screens, organise multi-party video conferencing, use voice activated virtual assistants, indulge in digital shopping and virtual reality gaming and avail smart home solutions that enable the control of home appliances using a smartphone at a much more affordable price. Availability of affordable fixed line broad band connectivity and cloud applications will empower small businesses to compete on level terms with larger businesses from a digital perspective.

The easy and affordable access of data will provide a boost to the Digital India initiative of the Modi government. This will enable citizens to access information and services anytime, anywhere, without delays and break the digital divide, making development inclusive and breaching the gap between hope and opportunity. Digital connectivity will also help India take a step forward towards a less cash economy. 

Further, the Reliance Jio’s proposition to make all Indians digitally connected will facilitate India to create a whole new digital economy and position India well to strive to be a global leader in the Fourth Industrial revolution.

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