Jio thinks big with 5G and smartphone plans

Jio thinks big with 5G and smartphone plans

Not content with its number one spot in India’s subscriber numbers listings, telecommunications giant Reliance Jio Infocomm is apparently aiming to become a 5G vendor and to develop an entry-level affordable smartphone.

Indian press reports suggest that Jio has developed what is described as a complete 5G solution, using 100 percent homegrown technologies, that will allow it to launch next-generation, high-speed services in India.

Positioning itself as an alternative to overseas suppliers, Jio’s so-called made-in-India 5G solution will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available and can be ready for field deployment next year, according to Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani.

Jio’s move to develop its own 5G technology is no doubt aimed at reducing Indian dependence on foreign vendors and taking advantage of technologies like OpenRAN and cloud, but is it feasible?

Jio isn’t an established 5G vendor like Nokia or Ericsson, so this is an ambitious move – and possibly even an opportunistic one, given the possibility that Huawei and ZTE may not be involved in India’s 5G plans after a recent cooling of relations between China and India.

Nevertheless, at this stage, another Jio plan – to bring affordable smartphones and services to India and the rest of the world – may seem more realistic.

This follows a commercial agreement between Reliance Jio and Google to jointly develop entry-level affordable 4G and possibly 5G smartphones in the future. The idea is that Google will provide optimizations to its Android operating system and the Play Store for smartphones that Jio will launch in the market.

The possibility of an entry-level 4G or 5G smartphone at a much lower cost and, of course, made in India, is certainly appealing, not only to Google and Reliance Jio but also to government and possibly to hundreds of millions of Indian end users who still use 2G feature phones.

Jio’s optimistic outlook extends to subscriber growth too. Reliance Jio Infocomm is expecting continued growth for its business as a mobile network operator, despite reports of a dip in its revenue market share in the March quarter. Mukesh Ambani has been quoted as suggesting that the company will hit the 500 million customer mark in the next three years.