India’s leading telecom operator Reliance Jio Infocomm has officially claimed that it has developed its own 5G solutions which will be available for commercial deployment for next year, coinciding with the Indian government’s plan to auction the 5G spectrum.
The telecom operator has also entered into a commercial partnership with internet major Google to develop entry-level or low-cost 4G and 5G smartphones for its subscribers in India. The partnership is a part of Google’s proposed investment of $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms for a 7.73% stake.
“…Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. This will enable us to launch a world-class 5G service in India… using 100% homegrown technologies and solutions,” revealed Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries in a speech at the company’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday.
Ambani said, Jio’s “ Made-in-India 5G solution” will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available in the country, and can be ready for field deployment next year.
“And, because of Jio’s converged, all-IP network architecture… we can easily upgrade our 4G network to 5G,” he said.
Reliance Jio also has a plan to take its technology to the global market, which means it wants to compete with traditional players like Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, and its own partner Samsung, which is powering the telco’s 4G network in India.
“Once Jio’s 5G solution is proven at India-scale, Jio Platforms would be well-positioned to be an exporter of 5G solutions to other telecom operators globally, as a complete managed service,” Ambani said.
Jio has already informed India’s telecom department (DoT) about its plan to trial home-grown 5G technology and has sought approval. It had previously submitted separate applications for 5G field trials with Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE.
On the handset partnership, Ambani said that the aim of the company is to make India ‘2G-mukt’ or free of 2G technology by helping India’s 350 million 2G-based feature phone users to 4G smartphones.
Under the partnership, Google will provide optimizations to its Android operating system and the Play Store for Jio smartphones that will be launched later this year.
“We believe we can design entry-level 4G… or even 5G smartphone for a fraction of its current cost. To power such a value-engineered smartphone, we also need an equally value-engineered operating system… and such an operating system must be designed from grounds-up,” Ambani said.
Reliance Industries’ retail arm Reliance Retail had previously launched the ‘Lyf’ smartphone brand to accelerate subscriber addition on Jio’s network just after the commercial launch. It had also launched a 4G feature phone, JioPhone in India.
Ambani said that JioPhone helped 100 million 2G phone users to its 4G feature phone, JioPhone.
The second iteration of 4G feature phone, JioPhone 2, however, failed to take off due to the pricing.
Sundar Pichai, Google chief executive officer, said that the collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of users who don’t currently own a smartphone while improving the mobile experience for all.
“Smartphones and affordable data have enabled millions of Indians to come online. Reliance and Jio, in particular, deserves a good deal of credit for this progress. But there is more work to do to connect every Indian to the opportunity that technologies create,” Pichai said.
Analysts are of the view that the partnership between Jio and Google has the potential to threaten the dominance of Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo that currently control over 80% of the market.