India / Jio to launch 5G services in second half of 2021, says Mukesh Ambani

Zoom News : Dec 08, 2020, 12:47 PM
Mumbai: Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani announced on December 8 that Jio will roll out 5G services in India by June 2021, marking a key development in the Indian telecom industry’s adoption of the next-gen technology.

There is a lack of clarity when it comes to 5G spectrum auction in India. Initially, the testing and subsequent auctions were expected in early 2020, but policy delays and the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic put cold water on the process.

Bharti Airtel, a leading telco, now expects the 5G spectrum auction to happen sometime in early 2021. Interestingly, the telco’s CEO Gopal Vittal said that the company will not bid for 5G spectrum if the reserve price is too high. The comments were made during Airtel’s earnings call in October.

Ambani urges the government to accelerate 5G roll out

Speaking at the inaugural session of India Mobile Congress 2020, Ambani stressed on the need for the government to accelerate early roll out of 5G. He also noted that it needs to be affordable.

Ambani’s four pointers for India to become the world’s pre-eminent digital economy

In addition to outlining the need for a quick 5G roll out, Mukesh Ambani also highlighted the four ways in which India can become the world’s pre-eminent digital economy.

1. Urgent policy steps to free 300 million users ‘trapped’ in the 2G era

Ambani pointed out that 300 million mobile subscribers in India are still using 2G services. As such, he urged the government to take steps to ensure these users have an affordable smartphone. This, he said, would allow those 300 million users to participate in India’s digital economy.

This would also ensure the telecom companies will not have to maintain the legacy 2G infrastructure, thereby reducing their costs and improving their profitability.

2. Early roll out of 5G

Ambani underlined that India is amongst the best digitally connected nations in the world. To ensure this lead, he said, Indian government needs to ensure early roll out of 5G services.

He also pointed out that 5G services will have to be affordable, as India is a price sensitive market. Toward this end, the government will likely have to ensure 5G spectrum prices are not steep.

Ambani also said that Jio will ‘pioneer’ the 5G revolution in India. The rollout will happen in the second half of 2021, but this will depend heavily on progress in 5G spectrum auctions.

He said that Jio’s 5G network will be powered by indigenously developed network, hardware and technology components.

3. Jio will export its homegrown solutions once proven in India

Ambani added that the Jio Platforms bouquet of services, which includes over 20 startup partners, will be offered to the rest of the world once proven in India.

The Jio Platforms family includes services from fields like education, healthcare, financial services, new commerce, and infrastructure.

4. India cannot rely on imports in critical areas like digital hardware

He also pointed out that India cannot rely on imports in critical areas like digital hardware. He said he foresees India becoming a major hub for the state-of-the-art semiconductor industry. Semiconductors are a critical piece of the hardware puzzle for all technology companies.