Reliance Jio has announced the beta launch of its 5G service, but arguably more interesting than that is the news that it is in talks with overseas operators keen to acquire its homegrown 5G technology.
The Indian operator essentially teased the launch of its so-called True-5G service on Tuesday, the Hindu festival of Dussehra. It was upfront about the fact that this is a beta launch to invited Jio customers only in four cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Varanasi.
We don’t know how many customers will be invited in the first wave, but Jio plans to broaden out the beta trial, adding other locations as and when it can. The lucky few – and ‘few’ could well be a relative term, given that Jio claims to have a customer base of 425 million in India – are being offered unlimited 5G data and will be upgraded to the real service once it launches…which seems to be once Jio reaches substantial coverage of any particular city.
“India is leading the Digital revolution. Jio 5G will be True 5G, and we believe India deserves nothing less than TRUE-5G,” said Akash Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio Infocomm, in a statement, capitals his own. “Jio 5G will be the world’s most advanced 5G network, built for every Indian, by Indians.”
India certainly wants to lead in digital transformation; its government has made noises to that effect for years. Whether it is actually there is questionable. However, Jio is doing its bit to put the country on the map.
Jio is in talks with overseas telecoms operators that could lead to it supplying one or more of them with its locally-developed end-to-end 5G platform, the Economic Times reported, citing an unnamed executive privy to proceedings.
“We are in serious discussions with some global operators,” the newspaper quoted the exec as saying.
Jio’s 5G offer was developed through its parent company Jio Platforms. It’s probably worth pointing out that while Jio is of course an Indian company, Jio Platforms counts Facebook, Google and a number of big names in the investment world among its investors and shareholders.
Jio Platforms’ end-to-end 5G solution consists of a 5G radio, core network, cloud infrastructure and cloud native OSS platforms, the paper explained.
It added that while Jio Platforms is looking to sell the offer internationally – and this latest press report seems to support the likelihood of that happening – it does not seem interested in working with Indian state-run player BSNL.
However, the tech will naturally underpin Reliance Jio’s own 5G rollout, which, as previously announced, is slated to be complete by the end of next year at a cost of US$25 billion.
Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani recently pledged to launch 5G “across multiple key cities, including the metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai,” by Diwali, which is now less than three weeks away. This beta launch, which is presumably what the exec was referring to, gets the telco a good way to hitting that target.
And comments from Jio’s Akash Ambani alongside the beta launch suggest that the company is keeping up the pace. “5G cannot remain an exclusive service available to the privileged few or those in our largest cities,” Ambani said. “It must be available to every citizen, every home, and every business across India.”
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