Urging the Indian government to accelerate the rollout of the fifth generation of mobile networks (or 5G technology), Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani, on Tuesday (December 8), said that Reliance Jio would lead the country’s 5G revolution by the second half of 2021.
Ambani, during the inaugural speech at the India Mobile Congress 2020, he talked about India being one of the best digitally connected countries in the world, with the prevalent high-speed 4G mobile network technology positively impacting lives of millions of citizens and proving to be “India’s digital lifeline”.
Ambani, in his speech, talked about 300 Mn mobile subscribers still being trapped in the 2G era, and how urgent policy steps are needed to ensure that these underprivileged people have an affordable smartphone so that they can receive Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) in their bank accounts, and actively participate in the digital transformation.
Reliance, through its telecom venture Jio, is planning to roll out 5G enabled smartphones at an initial price of around INR 5,000, which will be subsequently lowered to around INR 2,500 as production scales up. The cheapest 5G-enabled smartphones currently available in India are priced at around INR 27,000.
While operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have largely phased out 3G networks, 2G users still form a large chunk of their user base. Approximately 40% and 50% respectively for Airtel and Vodafone Idea. These two telcos have however maintained that globally, even the leading economies which have introduced 5G services, still maintain some 2G infrastructure. So there is no question of phasing out 2G completely.
According to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), 12-13% users will continue to use 2G handsets till 2025 in India.
Claiming India to be one of the best digitally connected nations, Ambani talked about policy measures needed to accelerate the early rollout of 5G technology, “to make it affordable and available everywhere.”
Talking about how Jio will pioneer India’s 5G revolution, Ambani added that the company’s 5G solution would be powered by indigenously built hardware, network and technology components.
“I can say with utmost confidence that 5G will enable India to not only participate in the fourth industrial revolution but also lead it,” said Mukesh Ambani at IMC 2020.