Reliance unveils fibre broadband service in 1,100 cities
After shaking mobile telephony with free voice calls and dirt cheap data, richest Indian Mukesh Ambani today unveiled an ultra high-speed fixed line fibre broadband for homes and enterprises across 1,100 cities and announced plans for an e-commerce platform that may rival likes of Amazon.
The new offerings alongside the strengthening of the mainstay energy and petrochemicals business will help double size of oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries to USD 125 billion by 2025, he told the company's shareholders.
Ambani said customers can start registering for the fixed line broadband from August 15 but did not give a launch date of the service, which will through one fibre provide high-speed internet, ultra high definition entertainment on large screen TVs, multi-party video conferencing, voice-activated virtual assistance, virtual reality gaming and digital shopping as well as smart home solutions.
Jio GigaFiber will offer ultimate broadband experience to surf, stream, game, and work, because of its ultra-fast upload and download speeds and effective functioning in milliseconds.
It will come directly to homes unlike in most cases where the fibre reaches only until the building and the last few meters of end connectivity is done using the traditional cable, which drastically reduces the speed and user experience due to patches and inferior cable qualities of such patch up.
Jio, Reliance's telecom service firm, will move India to top five nations in fixed-line broadband in the coming year, Ambani said but did not give pricing of the new offering or its launch date.
"We are currently running beta trials in tens of thousands of homes," he said. "While India has pole-vaulted into global leadership in the mobile broadband space… we still lag behind significantly in fixed-line broadband. India is ranked quite low at 134th in the global ranking for fixed broadband. Poor fixed-line infrastructure has been a key reason for this," he said.
With over Rs 2,50,000 crore already invested in digital infrastructure for providing mobile and broadband connectivity across the country, fibre broadband connectivity will now reach homes.
Jio's launch in September 2016 has already made India the highest mobile data consuming nation.
He also announced second-generation JioPhone with added features like qwerty keypad and messaging services like Whatsapp, Facebook, and Youtube. The phone will be available for booking from August 15 for Rs 2,999. This would be in addition to the JioPhone, which will continue to be available on payment of a Rs 1,500 refundable security deposit.
He said old feature phones can be exchanged for the new JioPhone for just Rs 501 under the new offering called Jio 'Monsoon Hungama'.
In last one year, Jio customer base has doubled to 215 million, and 25 million JioPhone sold, he said, adding that the target is to achieve 100 million JioPhone users in shortest span of time.
"Reliance has reached an inflection point," he said. "As the Golden Decade rolls on, our consumer businesses will contribute nearly as much to the overall earnings of the company as our energy and petrochemical businesses".
As India starts on its high growth journey to double the size of its economy by 2025, "I assure you that the size of Reliance will more than double in the same period," he said.
Jio, he said, has enabled data usage grown from 125 crore GBs per month to more than 240 crore GBs per month, making India the world's largest mobile data network.
To complement the firm's retail business, Ambani said in works is an online-to-offline e-commerce platform.
"As Reliance transitions to become a technology platform company, we see our biggest growth opportunity in creating a hybrid, online-to-offline new commerce platform," he said.
"We shall create this by integrating and synergizing the power of Reliance Retail's physical marketplace with the fabulous strengths of Jio's digital infrastructure and services."
Reliance Retail with 350 million footfalls last year at its 7,500 stores is the largest, fastest growing and most profitable retail company in India, he said.
Speaking on the firm's traditional businesses, he said Reliance is nearing the end of its largest-ever investment with the commissioning of world's largest Paraxylene complex, petcoke gasification project and an off-gas cracker, and planned the start of a Butyl rubber project later this year.
"It is our belief that with the rapidly increasing demand for petrochemicals maximizing 'Oil to Chemicals' conversion will play a catalytic role in determining the profitability of hydrocarbons businesses of the future," he said.
"As the world migrates from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we will further maximize this Oil to Chemicals conversion and upgrade all of our fuels to high-value petrochemicals."
Ambani said Reliance and its partner BP are working to produce 30-35 million standard cubic meters per day of gas from satellite fields in KG-D6 block by 2022.