India's richest man Mukesh Ambani today unveiled an ambitious roll-out plan, sending shares of rival Bharti Airtel plummeting about seven per cent.
Reliance Industries' long-awaited 4G multi-billion-dollar telecommunications network, called Reliance Jio Infocomm,would finally launch this month, Ambani told shareholders at the company's 42nd annual general meeting.
Aimed at revolutionising mobile internet connectivity, the venture is “dedicated to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India dream”, he said.
The ambitious plan would be rolled out from September 5 following repeated delays. Under the plan, Reliance Industries Ltd will offer free domestic voice calls and rock-bottom data prices on its new Jio mobile phone network until the end of the year.
The Reliance Industries chairman said it would cover 90 per cent of India's 1.25 billion population by March 2017. The company has invested about $50 billion in the project.
The Reliance Industries chairman said it would cover 90 per cent of India's 1.25 billion population by March 2017
Jio would be available for free until December 31 as it continues network tests, Ambani said. He, however, didn't say when the company would launch commercial services.
Also set to offer free roaming to all clients across the country, Jio will eventually charge a base rate of about 50 rupees ($0.7468) per gigabyte of data, and data charges will fall even more for heavier data users. The rates are about one-fifth of prevailing data costs in the country.
Long anticipated in India, Jio could make Reliance the country's most comprehensive provider of telecom and internet services across the country, a key plank of Ambani's future strategy even though Jio is unlikely to contribute significantly to Reliance profit anytime soon.
Long anticipated in India, Jio could make Reliance the country's most comprehensive provider of telecom and internet services across the country
"(Jio) is future-ready, and can easily be upgraded to support even more data as technologies advance," said Ambani.
"We'll be able to provide an abundance of high-quality high-speed data and transform India from a high-priced data market to one with the lowest data rates anywhere in the world."
Some key Reliance Jio features announced today were:
Highest network capacity: 70 per cent coverage at launch
- 4G internet in 18,000 Indian towns and two lakh villages
- Increased per person data consumption, from the current 0.15 GB to 5 GB per month
- The network is ready for 5G and 6G internet
- LYF devices: 4G-enabled smart-phones beginning from Rs 2,999
- Jio Fi: Wifi router for Rs 1,999
- Apps and content:
1) Jio TV - 300 plus live TV channels and 40 HD channels
2) Jio Cinema (HD) - 6,000 movies, 60,000 music videos, one lakh episodes (Also in 10 Indian regional languages)
3) Jio money: personal wallet to go cashless
4) Jio music: 2.8 million songs
- From September 5 to December 31 - Free data worth Rs 15,000
- Customer pays only for one service (internet data)
- Aadhar-based service, connection functional within 15 minutes
- One million Wifi hotspots across India
- No blackout days (on extra charges on festival days)
- Data at Rs 50/GB (5 ps/MB). Current industry rate: Rs 250/GB
- No charges for voice calls, no roaming charges either
- Unlimited data access during nights
- 25 per cent extra data for students with valid ID proof
Ambani claimed a “highest quality and lowest price data market in the world” with these services while he urged other operators to provide better interconnectivity.