Jio is unlike any other Indian telco in its vision to make a mark in global telecom vendor space. Is it ready to walk the talk?

The recent news about Reliance Industries’ Radisys being part of Next Gen InfraCo (NGIC), which would be setting up a 5G network in Ghana, has put the spotlight on an in-house 5G solution developed by the company. Radisys is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, which is also the parent company of Reliance Jio, India’s largest service provider.

Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of parent company Reliance Industries, initially announced in 2020 that “Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. This will enable us to launch world-class 5G services in India, using 100% homegrown technologies and solutions.” Once this was deployed in India, it planned to look at export opportunities in the global market.

Now, Radisys’s presence in the NGIC indicates that Jio is ready to start its journey as a telecom vendor. Apart from Radisys, Microsoft, TechM and Nokia are other vendors involved in the NGIC. 

Is Jio ready to make the global leap? 

Four years ago, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani announced that Jio would sell in-house developed 5G telecom gear in the global market after deploying it in India.

At last year’s Reliance Industries’ Annual General Meeting (AGM), Ambani claimed that Jio’s 5G rollout is using its own 5G stack. “Today, our 5G rollout is powered by Jio’s own 100% in-house developed 5G stack, which perfectly aligns with our Prime Minister’s Atmanirbhar [translated as self-reliant] vision. It features advanced technologies like Standalone 5G architecture, Carrier Aggregation and Network Slicing, with advanced AI/ML capabilities that optimize our vast network for unparalleled quality, reliability and user experience. And it is designed to seamlessly integrate with the 4G and 5G equipment from other global vendors,” Ambani said. 

He went on to say, “Jio’s own portfolio of 5G radios range from small cells to large tower-based radios, addressing the entire spectrum of outdoor and indoor usage scenarios.”

However, Jio’s 5G network is not entirely powered by an in-house developed 5G stack. The company is almost entirely using 5G RAN from prominent vendors Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia, not what it has developed on its own. “There have been some tests of Jio’s 5G radios, but as far as I know it is not deployed in its networks,” a senior telecom executive said. 

Little is known about Reliance’s homegrown 5G solution. “If you and I buy a 5G Jio SIM and roam every corner of this country, there is not one base station you will cross that is made in India,” a Jio executive told the Ken, a Bengaluru-based digital publication.  

However, the website for Jio Platforms, the parent company of Jio Infocomm, claims to offer an end-to-end 5G portfolio, including radio, core and automation platforms. According to media reports, now the company has started working on 6G core.

According to senior industry executives, the company is known to have developed certain components of the network. “Jio has developed its 5G core, which is deployed in their 5G network in India. It is also doing the entire managed services in-house. It has also developed its Open RAN solution, but it is not deployed in India as yet. From what I understand, Jio has also done significant research and development in 5G FWA [Fixed Wireless Access] as well,” said an industry veteran on condition of anonymity.

The FY21 annual report said that the company “completed testing of indigenously developed end-to-end Jio 5G Radio and Core Network Solution for a self-sufficient and cost-effective rollout in the near future.”

Jio launched 5G services in October 2022 and offers pan-India coverage with over 100 million subscribers. As the company looks to make a mark in the global telecom network, it will look at smaller markets like Ghana and other African countries, which are in the initial stages of providing 5G services. This would give it an opportunity to further develop its product range and address any issues. It remains to be seen if it is able to repeat its success as a service provider in India in the global telecom vendor space. 

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