Is your head is feeling dizzy after trying to follow key announcements from RIL boss Mukesh Ambani’s speech at the company’s 42nd Annual General Meeting? We aren’t surprised considering the many new and diverse initiatives launched and announced — ranging from Saudi Aramco buying a 20% stake (for $15 Bn) in Reliance’s oil-to-chemical business at a $75 Bn valuation to the much anticipated Jio Fiber launch, which brings broadband and fixed-line connectivity, set-top television, and a slew of digital services under one ecosystem.
Jio could end up dominating multiple facets of India’s communication and entertainment needs with the Jio Fiber launch, which targets gaming, communication, smart home automation as well as entertainment services through OTT and TV.
Further, the company launched substantial services for SMEs and startups, with the key one being free cloud services and connectivity infrastructure to Indian startups thanks to Jio’s partnership with Microsoft Azure cloud services.
It’s no wonder that some are jokingly referred to this as the “Indian budget” considering the breadth of the announcements. Here are the key takeaways from Reliance Industries chairman Ambani’s speech at the 42nd AGM..
Jio GigaFiber Coming Next Month
Reliance Jio’s broadband internet service will be officially called Jio GigaFiber and is expected to roll out on September 5, with prices starting at INR 700 and going all the way up to 10K per month, its highest price point at which users will get speeds of 1 gigabyte per second (Gbps).
Jio Fiber or Jio GigaFiber plans will come bundled with a landline connection, and a HD or 4K set top box for smart TV services, which will also enable the much-anticipated OTT play by the company.
Jio Goes From OTT Partner To OTT Player
Jio Fiber users are expected to get a free subscription to several OTT platforms as part of the bundle but which OTT players have signed up to be part of this is not yet known.
But what is now clear is that from being a facilitator of access to entertainment services, Jio now expects iself to be a more active entertainment platform after already running the Jio TV service that provides online access to live television programming.
Premium users of the Jio Fiber will get access to a yet-to-be-launched OTT platform by Jio, called ‘Jio First Day First Show’. The platform will allow users to watch movies on the same day it is released. The launch date for this platform is said to be in mid-2020.
Jio’s Cloud Play With Microsoft Azure
During his presentation, Ambani said up to 80% of the cost of running a startup goes towards cloud and connectivity infrastructure, and thus Reliance has partnered with Microsoft to help provide cloud infrastructure free of charge for budding startups, with Indian SMEs getting a suite of tools for very low prices.
For micro, small and medium businesses, a bundle of connectivity, productivity and automation tools is typically priced between INR 15K and INR 20K per month, but Reliance and Microsoft would offer these applications along with connectivity for “one-tenth the cost starting at INR 1,500 per month,” Ambani said.
The startups will just have to register for their ‘custom design packages’ on Jio.com before Jan 1, 2020.
“This is the most rock-bottom pricing that one can imagine even for the most elementary cloud services,” said Navin Mishra, senior director, analyst, digital infrastructure, cloud and hyperconvergence, at Gartner, while speaking to ET.
Jio Fiber’s AR And VR Ambitions
If the Jio Fiber bundle was enticing enough already, Jio GigaFiber will also provide access to mixed reality (augmented reality mixed with virtual reality) experiences that can be used for shopping, education and entertainment purposes.
Reliance scion Akash Ambani said “Jio has truly become the digital gateway of India”, and along with sister Esha and Reliance Industries President Kiran Thomas went on to don the Holoboard AR headset at the AGM. The device will work in conjunction with the Jio Fiber service and could open up a whole new shopping experience for ecommerce, which is also part of Reliance’s plans for the year.
Jio Blockchain and Reliance’s IoT Platform
Mukesh Ambani has also announced the launch date for its pan-India Narrowband Internet of Things (NBIoT) platform, which he claimed is an INR 20K Cr per year revenue opportunity for the company. Jio’s IoT platform will be commercially available starting January 1, 2020.
“Using blockchain we can deliver unprecedented security, trust, automation and efficiency to almost any type of transaction. This is a vital capability for India especially for modernising our supply chains for agricultural produce and other goods which form the lifeblood of our economy,” Ambani added.
Ambani said blockchain technology represented an opportunity to invent a brand-new model for data privacy where Indian data must remain in the country.
Jio 5G Launch, Subscriber Base And More
Besides the new announcements and platforms, Ambani also revealed subscription figures for Reliance Jio. “Jio crossed the 340 Mn subscriber mark to remain the world’s fastest growing digital services company,” he said. It is now the largest mobile network operator in India beating Vodafone-Idea.
Ambani added that due to the investment in Jio’s 4G network infrastructure, only marginal further investments would be needed to grow capacity. Ambani also said that Reliance Jio is now also a software company, has over 6000 software engineers
Reliance has worried investors over the extent of its debt, which is part of the reason for Saudi Aramco’s investment.
Ambani said Jio is capable of upgrading to 5G services at “minor incremental costs”. Thanks to Jio’s decision to not focus on legacy networks at the time of launch, the implementation of 5G can be done at a minimal cost to the company. On the other hand, the adoption of next-gen 5G networks is likely to be a huge capital burden on rival telcos.
Will Reliance Jio Become India’s De-Facto Communications Platform?
With the multipronged launch for its Jio Fiber play, Reliance Jio has thrown a huge challenge to the existing broadband and internet service providers. If telcos were quaking in their boots after the emergence of Reliance Jio 4G, Jio Fiber promises to shake up the likes of Airtel, BSNL, ACT Fibernet and could even encroach into the territory of Tata Sky and Airtel TV.
With its OTT play, Reliance is also bringing competition to the likes of Netflix, Hotstar, AltBalaji, Amazon Prime and others, which have grown rapidly on the back of Reliance’s cheap 4G data services.
If Jio Fiber ends up being a success at the same scale as Reliance Jio, it will change the landscape of online communication and entertainment in India forever, and could monopolise a lot of internet and digital services under its umbrella.