Mumbai: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani will re-enter the telecom business with a Rs 4,000 4G smartphone by December, offering voice and data services for as low as Rs 300-Rs 500 per month.
Reliance Jio Infocomm, which will commercially launch 4G services by December, has the largest footprint of liberalised spectrum in the country, acquired at a cost of Rs 34,000 crore.
Speaking at annual shareholders meeting of Reliance Industries (RIL), Ambani said ensuring availability of affordable 4G smartphones has been one of the topmost priorities for Jio.
“The combination of Jio’s strong initiatives and a supportive global environment, gives me the confidence that we will see 4G LTE smartphones in India at prices below Rs 4,000 by December of this year,” Ambani said.
Jio plans to offer telecom, high speed data, digital commerce, media and payment services for about Rs 300 to Rs 500 per month.
“In our digital business, our plan is to provide the same power of computing, communication and information to every individual, whether in towns or rural areas, that the US President had ten to fifteen years ago. All this at about Rs 300 to Rs 500 per month,” the Chairman of RIL said.
He said Jio is now present in all of the 29 states with a direct physical presence in nearly 18,000 cities and towns whereas wireless footprint covers over one lakh villages.
“We are expanding this footprint to cover nearly 80% of India’s population by the end of this year. Our roadmap is to have 100% national coverage within the next three years,” he said.
Ambani said Jio is well-positioned to emerge as a global tier-1 telecom operator but it is much more than just telecom services.
“We followed an integrated business strategy from the very beginning, and today, Jio is capable of offering a unique combination of telecom, high speed data, digital commerce, media and payment services,” he added.
The firm in April launched its first mobile application, ‘Jio Chat’ that integrates chat, voice, video calling, conferencing, file sharing, photo sharing among others.
“In just the first few weeks of operations, Jio Chat now has a million active users, without any paid promotions or over paid advertisements whatsoever,” Ambani said.
Apart from that, the company plans to unveil many more applications in coming weeks like switch-and-walk, which allows customers to copy everything from their old phone to a new phone, ‘Jio Drive’ which brings cloud capabilities to smartphone, ‘Jio Play’ that will allow users to watch TV channels on their handsets, ‘Jio Beats’ which is a music app, and ‘Jio Mags’ and ‘Jio News’ among others.
Ambani said, this year, acquisition of Network 18 was completed.
“Network 18 has 17 news channels, 14 entertainment channels, in 8 languages, and a strong set of Internet businesses that will be well positioned to transition to the Jio platform,” he said.
By 2017-18, it will be the most integrated TV mobile set of content in India, he said.
The RIL Chairman said Jio has deployed a network of nearly 250,000 route kilometres of fibre optics and over the next 3 years, it will more than double than this by deploying fibre optics in the last mile.
He said by April next year, Jio would have connected over 1 million homes via fibre optics with a capability of scaling up in the top 50 cities of India.
“Jio is the only operator in the world providing next generation digital services over an end-to-end all-IP network,” he added.
Ambani said that Jio is also working on its digital money and digital payment business.
“Jio Money will play a crucial role in digitisation of payments in India by offering a platform for ubiquitous, affordable and secure digital payments,” he said.
The company has partnered with State Bank of India, to apply for the Payment Bank licence.
“The Payment Bank, if approved, will complement our initiatives on the digital payments business and also enable distribution of financial services by leveraging on retail and other Jio business in the most accessible, simple and affordable manner with specific focus on the financially excluded,” Ambani said.