Jio 5G to come to select cities by Diwali, company to spend $25 Bn on roll-out

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Earlier this month, Reliance Industries’ Jio emerged as the top buyer in the government auction for the 5G airwaves, spending a record $11.13 billion. Now, it intends to put that spend to use, as it begins rolling out 5G services from October 2022. The same was announced at Jio-parent Reliance Industries’ AGM today.

The company also intends to launch Air Fiber – which is basically Jio Fiber, but wireless and more advanced. It is said to be wireless a plug-and-play 5G hotspot that negates the requirement for fiber cables. Through Air Fiber, customers can opt to use a virtual PC, and it will not require any investment upfront.

At Reliance Industries’ 45th AGM on Monday, chairman Mukesh Ambani announced that its telecom arm will launch the 5G standalone services in select cities across the country – Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai – this Diwali, in October. This echoes the statement of telecom ministry Ashwini Vaishnaw, who earlier informed that India would be getting 5G services from October 12.

If this is not ambitious enough, Jio also aims to extend its network and bring about pan-India coverage of 5G by the end of next year – December 2023. Ambani, at the meeting, added that the company has already committed $25 billion (₹2 trillion) to roll out 5G services and develop the infrastructure required for the same.

Even though India has emerged to become the second largest wireless market today, 5G – which is said to provide far more data speed than that provided by 4G – is yet to become a widespread technology despite the presence of several 5G-compatible smartphones in the domestic market.

The auction for 5G airwaves in August was among the latest steps taken by the government to improve the rollout of 5G in the country, and Reliance, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea walked out after acquiring spectrum in various frequency bands.

At that time, Reliance acquired spectrum in 700MHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz, 3300MHz and 26GHz bands, while Bharti Airtel acquired spectrum in 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 3300MHz and 26GHz frequency bands. Vodafone Idea, on the other hand, acquired spectrum in 3300MHz and 26GHz bands.

“We will create a robust architecture for tomorrow’s Reliance to ensure that it remains a united, well-integrated and secure institution even as we develop our existing businesses and add new growth engines,” Ambani noted at the AGM.

Jio and US Big Tech team up

In related news, Jio will be teaming up with foreign tech behemoths Meta, Google, Microsoft, Intel and Qualcomm. The Meta-Jio duo will result in the development of immersive technology and the metaverse (which was the talk of the town when Zuckerberg announced it), while Jio’s partnership with Google will see the development and rolling out of both ultra-affordable 5G smartphones and collaborations on Google Cloud in India.

Jio’s partnership with Qualcomm is being expanded as the telecom major looks to bring a robust 5G network across the country, which can also be expanded abroad. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon noted that Jio was well positioned to drive digital transformation across India. “As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, with Reliance Jio, we’re committed to developing the digital infrastructure that enables the success of citizens and businesses, and achieves the New India,” he said.

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