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India: Reliance AGM Ambani says' Google Budget 5GPhone, Cloud-based 5G Network, Jio-Mart on WhatsApp

Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s second richest person said the phone being developed with Google would be “ultra-affordable”

Reliance Jio 5G is expected to provide country wide services by December 2023, with the potential to connect 100 million homes.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of the Reliance Industries Ltd., speaks via live stream during the annual general meeting in Mumbai, India, on Monday.

Reliance Industries Ltd., will invest US$25 billion to roll out its 5G services in October across the largest Indian cities, its billionaire-chairman Mukesh Ambani said as he continues to expand and diversify the $221 billion empire.

India’s telecoms leader Reliance said on Monday it is working with Alphabet Inc’s Google to launch a budget 5G phone as it laid out a US$25 billion plan for introducing the next-generation wireless services within two months.

Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani said Jio’s 5G network will be the world’s largest, launching in main cities including New Delhi and Mumbai before being expanded across India by December next year. “Jio has prepared an ambitious 5G roll-out plan,” the billionaire tycoon said, adding that the phone being developed with Google would be “ultra-affordable”.

Reliance’s 5G service “will connect everyone, every place and everything with the highest quality and most affordable data,” Ambani said at the online event. “It will be world’s largest and most advanced 5G network.”

The 5G technology has not been very profitable for Asian wireless operators despite many investing billions of dollars, including those in China which have been offering 5G service since 2019.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., the telecoms unit of the retail-to-refining conglomerate will deploy “stand-alone 5G” version which does not depend on the earlier 4G network and hence delivers speedier connectivity, Ambani told investors in the annual shareholder meet on Monday.

Reliance Jio 5G is expected to provide country wide services by December 2023, he said, adding that the service has the potential to connect 100 million homes as well as accelerate the adoption of fixed broadband services.

Reliance Jio is trying to develop a 5G network that can boost revenue, attract high-end users and bolster its e-commerce and media ambitions. Ambani, Asia’s second-richest person who built Reliance into India’s largest company by market value, has been diversifying the powerhouse conglomerate beyond its fossil fuel-led businesses and toward technology and renewable energy.

5G data speeds in India are expected to be about 10 times faster than those of 4G, with the network seen as vital for emerging technologies like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence. Reliance’s 5G plans throw down the gauntlet to rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea in the world’s second biggest mobile market.

The aggressive 5G strategy builds on Jio’s playbook of disrupting India’s telecoms market having sparked a price war in 2016 when it launched cheap 4G data plans and free voice services, and later a 4G smartphone costing just US$81, again in partnership with Google.

Reliance said it would partner with Qualcomm Inc to provide cloud-based 5G network solutions for businesses, and with Meta Platform Inc for its JioMart shopping integration on WhatsApp.

Ambani, who did not share tariff details, said the new stand-alone 5G service will help Reliance Jio deliver “new and powerful services like low latency, massive machine-to-machine communication, 5G voice, Edge computing and network slicing, and metaverse.”

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This was one of the much-awaited announcements from Ambani who has used the annual shareholder speech in the past as a platform for announcing new initiatives. Investors were awaiting details around the 5G roll out, tariff structure given Reliance’s track record of price disruption plans, as well as end-use cases.

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