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Mukesh Ambani’s ambitious Reliance Jio plan

MUMBAI: India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani has ambitious plans for Reliance Jio, which he describes as one of the largest transformational green-field digital initiatives anywhere in the world.

RJio, the telecom unit of Reliance Industries, has its footprint in all of the 29 states of India, with a direct physical presence in nearly 18,000 cities and towns.

Mukesh_AmbaniThe launch of the 4G services will be in December. Promising mass spread, the voice and data services will be priced as low as Rs 300-Rs 500 per month and the 4G smartphone below Rs 4,000. This will upset the existing telecom players and the multi-system operators (MSOs) who are in broadband play. Reliance Jio Media is also planning to enter the MSO business and has applied for a licence.

TelevisionPost.com brings to its readers the highlights of Ambani’s plans for RJio.

When is the launch of the 4G services expected?

The company is currently in the pre-launch testing and stabilisation phase of this large and complex network. Over the next few months, it will initiate an extensive beta launch involving millions of friendly customers across all the markets.

The beta programme will be upgraded into commercial operations around December this year.

Financial year 2016–17 will be the first full year of commercial operations for RJio.

What will the price of RJio services be?

The entire bouquet of services will be priced between Rs 300 and Rs 500 a month. This will trigger a price war and will impact the ARPU of other service providers. Even MSOs who provide high-speed broadband services will be impacted, if there are no technology glitches.

How much will the 4G LTE handsets cost?

The combination of RJio’s strong initiatives and a supportive global environment will help 4G LTE smartphones in India to be sold at prices below Rs 4,000 by December of this year. This will complement Jio’s December commercial launch. In a bid to boost 4G device adoption levels, Reliance Jio Infocomm will launch several smartphone apps over the next few months.

The best network and the best of content cannot be seamlessly accessed without capable and affordable devices. Ensuring the availability of affordable 4G LTE smartphones has been one of the topmost priorities for RJio.

RJio and Reliance Digital teams have worked with all the leading device manufacturers of the world to ensure availability of 4G LTE smartphones across all price points—from ultra-premium models on one hand, to entry-level models on the other.

Having a strong line-up of smartphones, tablets, and devices across all price points will remove a key barrier to mass adoption of broadband data, high-definition voice, video calling, messaging and rich value-added services.

What footprint RJio is targeting?

RJio has presence across 18,000 cities in 29 states. Its wireless footprint extends even further and covers over one lakh villages. The company is expanding this footprint to cover nearly 80 per cent of India’s population by the end of this year.

The roadmap is to have 100 per cent national coverage within the next three years.

What are the fibre optic network plans?

RJio has deployed a network of nearly 250,000 km of fibre optics, thus creating a future-proof digital backbone across India.

Over the next three years, RJio will more than double this fibre footprint by deploying fibre optics in the last mile. It is also using this deep fibre network to ramp up fibre-to-the-home deployment.

By April of next year, the company will have connected over one million homes via fibre with a capacity to scale up rapidly in the top 50 cities of India.

How much the company has invested in acquiring the spectrum?

The cumulative investment in spectrum assets is nearly Rs 34,000 crore (Rs 340 billion).

In addition to the existing pan-India 2300 MHz spectrum and 1800 MHz in 14 circles, RJio has invested over Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) during this year’s auction to acquire 800 MHz spectrum in 10 circles and 1800 MHz spectrum in six circles. Jio can thus provide seamless 4G services on the LTE platform across 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands through an integrated ecosystem.

The company has the largest footprint of liberalised spectrum in the country, acquired in an extremely cost-effective manner.

The whole project would involve an investment of Rs 70,000 crore (Rs 700 billion). The broadband infrastructure will be able to handle the burgeoning demand for data and voice using LTE.

How many customers can RJio serve initially and what are the expansion plans?

As all the key components of the RJio broadband network are now operational, the company has an end-to-end initial capacity to serve in excess of 100 million wireless broadband and 20 million fibre-to-the-home customers, with the capacity to expand further as the business scales up.

How is RJio planning the quad play game?

While RJio is well positioned to emerge as a global Tier 1 telecom operator, it is much more than just telecom services. The three-pronged combination of broadband networks, affordable smartphones, and the availability of rich content and applications has created a global information tsunami.

The company had foreseen this development even when RJio was first conceptualised. It followed an integrated business strategy from the very beginning, and today, RJio is capable of offering a unique combination of telecom, high-speed data, digital commerce, media, and payment services.

Which services will be available on RJio?

In April this year, the company launched its first mobile application ‘Jio Chat’, which is a communication application that integrates chat, voice, video calling, conferencing, file sharing, photo sharing, and much more in a single application.

The app was released on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store on a pilot basis. In just the first few weeks of operations, Jio Chat now has a million active users, without any paid promotions or over-paid advertisements whatsoever.

Another application is ‘Switch-and-Walk’, which is an interesting app that allows customers to seamlessly copy everything from their old phone to a new phone. All contacts, messages, photos, music, media and applications are transferred from one phone to another, wirelessly, with just a few easy clicks across operating systems and phone models.

‘Jio Drive’ is an application that brings cloud capabilities to every smartphone. Using Jio Drive, anyone can store, sync, and share any content between their own devices and with their friends.

What about news and entertainment services?

RJio is ready to launch a suite of exciting, engaging, exclusive, and entertaining digital media products. First comes ‘Jio Play’, which will enable users to watch HD TV anytime, anywhere on any device. It has hundreds of channels across categories and languages.

The company has built a personalised video-on-demand application that brings Bollywood, regional and international movies, TV episodes, trailers, and music videos in HD for entertainment.

‘Jio Beats’ is a premier digital music streaming service that gives users instant access to millions of songs and curated playlists. One can also download music and listen to it offline.

‘Jio Mags’ provides the most popular collection of magazines, in full colour and with a slew of innovative features. One can read past issues along with the very latest issues.

‘Jio News’ delivers a one-stop shop for all news from leading news publishing houses across multiple languages and categories. It offers instant live updates with zero loading time and offline reading capability.

All these services are being piloted and will be launched along with Jio connectivity services.

RJio will bring true digitisation and a transformation of the current television-viewing experience, and mark a shift in control from the broadcaster to the hand of the consumer.

How will acquisition of Network18 help RJio?

Network18 has 17 news channels and 14 entertainment channels in eight languages. It also boasts a strong set of internet businesses that will be well positioned to transition to the RJio platform.

The company is working towards transforming all of these to build and sustain leadership in each of these areas. By 2017–18, it will be the most integrated TV/mobile set of content in India.

Reliance Jio Media has also applied for an MSO licence. What is the plan there?

RJio has plans to enter into broadcast TV distribution. Further progress will be shared later.

Is RJio working on any other areas?

Another exciting area that Jio is working on is ‘Jio Money’, the digital money and digital payments business. The developed markets have shown that mass adoption of digital payment solutions have significant positive impacts on the economy. It brings better transparency, improves financial inclusion, facilitates merchant business, and drives growth of trade and commerce. However, more than 95 per cent of all retail payments in India are still done using cash. Less than one million merchants accept card-based payments.

Jio Money will play a crucial role in the digitisation of payments in India by offering a platform for ubiquitous, affordable and secure digital payments. It is the ideal solution for smallest merchants, such as kiranas, restaurants, and taxi drivers. No additional device is needed, and they will be able to accept payments using just their phone.

The company’s goal is to create a wide network of merchants who use Jio Money, so that most household payments can happen digitally. Customers can use Jio Money’s digital wallet, a Jio Money card, or any other credit/debit card directly from the wallet to pay merchants seamlessly and instantly.

Jio Money digital wallet will also give consumers the option of opening a digital bank account or linking their existing account. This will help them access banking anywhere, any time. The product has been launched within a few Reliance campuses and facilities, and is expected to expand presence city by city, across the country in phases over the next few quarters.

Jio Money will leverage on Jio’s digital network and distribution reach to acquire untapped merchants.

Moreover, RJio has partnered State Bank of India to apply for the Payments Bank licence under regulations issued by the Reserve Bank of India. The Payments Bank, if approved, will complement the initiatives on the digital payments business and enable distribution of financial services by leveraging on retail and other RJio business in the most accessible, simple, and affordable manner with specific focus on the financially excluded.

How many people does RJio employ?

The RJio team has grown rapidly over the past year to over 17,500 full-time employees. This team has managed dozens of world-class technology partners and more than 150,000 people on the ground to achieve the rollout target.

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