JioPhone Next affordable smartphone launched, new 5G cloud deal

JioPhone 5G JioPhone Next Cloud
JioPhone Next smartphone. Image courtesy Jio Platforms

Reliance Jio and internet major Google have launched their joint offering, the JioPhone Next smartphone, and claimed that it will be the most affordable smartphone globally. Both companies have also extended their partnership with the new Google Cloud deal which will cover Reliance Industries Limited’s telecom, retail and media businesses.

“JioPhone Next is powered by an extremely optimised version of the Android Operating System, that has been jointly developed by Jio and Google, especially for the Indian market,” Reliance Industries Limited’s Managing Director and Chairman Mukesh Ambani said during its speech the group’s annual general meeting (AGM). 

The phone, which will be available from September 10, will come with features like voice assistant, automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation, smart camera with augmented reality filters, Ambani said.

While the pricing wasn’t announced, the phone is likely to be heavily subsidized by RIL to offer it at ultra-affordable rates. Media reports previously suggested that the phone could be priced under $40.

During his speech, Ambani said that the phone can be taken to the rest of the world after its launch in India.

“Our teams have optimised a version of our Android OS especially for this device. It will offer language and translation features, a great camera, and support for the latest Android updates. It is built for India… And it will open up new possibilities for millions of new users who will experience the internet for the very first time….and we can’t wait to show you the device later this year,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during the AGM.

Google had in July 2020 made an investment of $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms for a 7.73% stake.

With the help of its ultra-affordable smartphone and network investments, Ambani said that Jio can acquire 200 million new mobile users, making  India ‘2G-mukt’ or free of 2G technology.

Google Cloud deal

Google’s cloud subsidiary, Google Cloud, also entered into a long-term strategic partnership with Reliance Jio with a goal of powering the latter’s 5G in enterprise and consumer segments nationwide. 

Jio said that Google Cloud will provide a complete end-to-end cloud offering for fully automated lifecycle management of Jio’s 5G network and services. Both companies will also join forces to bring a portfolio of 5G edge computing solutions to help industries address real business challenges. 

Under the arrangement, Jio will explore building new services across gaming, healthcare, education, and video entertainment sectors. “These services will use Jio’s 5G network, software and Google Cloud’s innovations in AI/ML, data and analytics, and other cloud-native technologies—delivered by Jio and powered by Google Cloud,” as per an official statement.

“Cloud and Cloud solutions, is another area where we are collaborating with Google. Jio will use Google Cloud’s cutting-edge technologies to power JIO’s 5G Solutions and for powering the internal needs of key Reliance growth businesses like Reliance Retail, JioMart, JioSaavn and JioHealth,” Ambani said.

Pichai said that Reliance Retail, the retail arm of RIL, will shift its core retail businesses to Google Cloud’s infrastructure and will be able take advantage of Google’s AI and machine learning, ecommerce, and demand forecasting offerings.

Additionally, other Jio businesses like JioMart, JioSaavn and JioHealth will also use Google Cloud’s infrastructure in the country. 

As part of the partnership, RIL said that it will also augment its “compute workload” for retail business taking advantage of Google’s AI/ML, ecommerce, and demand forecasting offerings. 

“This will help Reliance to rapidly grow its new commerce business to leverage

Google Cloud with increased reliability and performance, as well as scale up as needed to respond to customer demand. Jio will also adopt Google Cloud’s scalable, serverless data analytics platform to advance its data-led innovation strategy,” the company said.

5G: Jio eyeing global telcos 

During his speech, Ambani revealed that Jio has taken “tremendous strides” in maturing its 5G stack, which includes core, RAN and massive-Mimo equipment. 

 Jio’s 5G solutions, once proven at India-scale, will be taken to other telecom operators across the world, he said.

Reliance Jio has tested its own 5G solutions together with its partners in India and demonstrated speeds in excess of 1 GBPS, Ambani revealed during his speech. He added that the Jio’s end-to-end 5G stack is being piloted in Navi Mumbai and at its data centers

“Jio’s engineers have developed a 100% home-grown and comprehensive 5G solution which is fully cloud-native, software-defined, and digitally managed. Jio has developed deep expertise in multiple emerging technologies like 5G, AI/ML and blockchain and Mixed Reality. We are developing 100% owned Intellectual Property,” Ambani added.

Jio’s own 5G technology is “well-positioned” to create compelling applications for consumers and enterprises spanning healthcare, education, entertainment, retail among other key verticals, Ambani said.

Jio is also working with Reliance Foundation schools to use 5G to deliver interactive AR/ VR content to students and classrooms. Jio will soon start 5G field trials in Delhi, Gujarat and Hyderabad having received 5G trial spectrum in 3.5Ghz, 28GHz and 700 MHz bands from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). 

Google backs India with $4.5bn investment in Jio Platforms

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