Reliance Jio and US-based Qualcomm will join hands to fast-track the deployment of 5G mobile internet based on homegrown technologies, putting India in an exclusive club of nations with the capability to offer superfast speeds of 1 gigabyte per second (Gbps) to users.
San Diego-based Qualcomm is the world’s leading mobile chipset and modem maker.
The partnership builds on the commitment by Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, who announced in July that Jio was developing made-in-India 5G technology, giving the country control over coveted know-how that is the foundation of a digital economy.
The two companies also announced that they achieved speeds of 1 Gbps on Jio’s 5G solution using a Qualcomm platform. For beginners, this would mean that it will be possible to download a one gigabyte size movie in just one second.
The partnership also includes Radisys Corporation, a US subsidiary of Jio.
“This achievement not only supports Jio’s 5G credentials but also signifies the entry of Jio and India into the Gigabit 5G NR product portfolio,” the two companies said in a statement.
At present, only a handful of countries, including the US, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland and Germany offer 1 Gbps speeds to 5G users.
Speaking at the Qualcomm 5G Summit, Mathew Oommen president of Reliance Jio Infocomm said, “I am excited to announce that with Qualcomm’s technology and support, Jio has indigenously developed a 5G RAN product that has achieved over 1 Gbps throughput… in fact joining the gigabit throughput clock, the product is already tested and validated by a Tier-1 carrier in the US.”
In a statement, Qualcomm said, “This work is intended to fast track the development and roll-out of indigenous 5G network infrastructure and services in India.”
In July, Reliance Jio had raised INR 730 Cr from Qualcomm Ventures, the investment wing of Qualcomm. Qualcomm invested in Jio Platforms at an equity value of INR 4.91 Lakh Cr and an enterprise value of INR 5.16 Lakh Cr. The investment gives Qualcomm 0.15% stake in Reliance Jio on a fully diluted basis.
In all, Jio Platforms — that houses India’s youngest but largest telecom firm Jio and apps — has raised about INR 1,52,056 Cr from 13 investors, including Facebook, Google, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, KKR, Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), TPG Capital, L Catterton, Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, Intel Capital and Qualcomm Ventures, for a total 32.9% stake.
While its past investments in Indian startups pale in comparison to the Jio deal, Qualcomm Ventures has been active in the technology sector. It has invested in Portea Medical, MoveInSync, Ninjacart and MindTickle among other companies.
Since 2016, Reliance Jio has become the defacto flagbearer of digital growth in the Indian market. Reliance Jio and the company’s various digital businesses were clubbed under Jio Platforms late last year. In the last four years, Jio has added dozens of products and services centred around 4G services and home broadband, including JioSaavn, JioTV, JioCinema, JioMoney, JioNews, Ajio, JioMart and even launched a video conferencing product JioMeet to meet the growing demand, among others.
5G By 2022 In India
A report by Ericsson had revealed that 5G technology will make inroads into India by 2022. It said that while 5G is expected to cover 65% of the world’s population by 2025, India would be able to only register 11% 5G subscriptions in the country.
The challenges behind this slow growth of 5G in India can be seen as a result of a lack of infrastructure and slow adoption of this technology by telecom players. Notably, telecom majors in most of the regions globally have started to switch to 5G networks with governments already allocating 5G spectrums to them in respective countries.
For instance, since its launch in April 2019 in South Korea, the country’s service providers have already recorded 3 Mn 5G subscriptions by the end of September 2019.