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India’s Jio Platforms eyes global 5G opportunity

Indian mobile network operator Jio Platforms has built a 5G solution that will meet domestic and global demand for 5G services

Reliance’s Jio Platforms has developed a homegrown 5G solution that is expected to be deployed next year when test spectrum is made available by Indian telco regulators.

Speaking at Reliance’s recent annual general meeting, company chairman Mukesh Ambani said the complete solution will enable it to launch a world-class 5G service in India, adding that the solution can also be exported to other countries.

Ambani said because of Jio’s converged IP architecture, the telco can easily upgrade its existing 4G network to a 5G network. The company is also setting a goal to pursue the global 5G opportunity and to create a significant source of revenue from both domestic and global markets.

“I believe that the time has come for a truly global digital product and services company to emerge from India and to be counted among the best in the world,” he said.

Jio Platforms has teamed up with partners to realise its ambition. At the virtual meeting, Ambani announced that Google is investing $4.5bn for a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms. The two parties will also work together to develop a version of Android for low-cost smartphones.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the investment in Jio Platforms will help to improve smartphone access in India and the mobile experience.

“Today, people in India no longer have to have to wait for technology to come…and at the same time, smartphones and affordable data have made it possible for a billion Indians to come online,” Pichai said. “But there’s more work to do to connect every Indian to the opportunity that technology creates.”

Meanwhile, Jio Platforms has also deepened ties with Qualcomm, whose investment arm Qualcomm Ventures is investing $97m “to support Jio Platforms on its journey to rollout advanced 5G infrastructure and services for Indian customer”.

Qualcomm said the investment will translate into 0.15% equity stake in Jio Platforms, which has more than 388 million subscribers.

In 2019, the number of smartphone subscriptions in India stood at 620 million and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9%, reaching one billion by 2025, according to Ericsson’s June 2020 mobility report.

The report noted that 5G will represent around 18% of mobile subscriptions in India at the end of 2025. Mobile broadband technologies accounted for 58% of mobile subscriptions in 2019, and this figure is predicted to reach 82% by 2025.

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