India’s Reliance to push for 5G rollout in Q2 of 2021

Indian telco Reliance Jio will initiate their 5G services rollout plans by June of 2021, according to the provider’s Chairman Mukesh Ambani that announced the news at the fourth edition of the India Mobile Congress.

Ambani highlighted that the rollout of the fifth generation of mobile networks will be marked as a key development in the Indian telecom industry as it looks to fuel innovation allowing the country to lead the line of the fourth industrial revolution.

“India is today among the best digitally connected nations in the world. To maintain this lead, policy steps are needed to accelerate the early rollout of 5G, and to make it affordable and available everywhere. I assure you that JIO will pioneer the 5G Revolution in India in the second half of 2021. It will be powered by the indigenous-developed network, hardware and technology components,” the Reliance Chairman said during his speech.

Lack of clarity shrouds India’s 5G spectrum auction, mainly due to policy delays and the sudden breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic which halted the auctions dead in their tracks, as they were expected back in early 2020.

Ambani’s comments at the Mobile Congress clashes with those of their rivals. Bharti Airtel, Chairman, Sunil Mittal, considers that 5G rollout in the country will require another two to three years to fully come to fruition.

Back in October, Airtel’s leadership, including its Chief Executive Officer, Gopal Vittal, have said that the ecosystem for 5G is still underdeveloped and that spectrum is expensive; in parallel, Ambani is urging the Indian government to accelerate 5G rollout.

The Reliance Chairman stressed for the rapid development of policy steps to ensure underprivileged people on 2G networks shift to affordable smartphones so they too can reap the benefits such as direct benefit transfer into their bank accounts, and actively participate in the digital economy.

“As the digitalization of the Indian economy and its society picks up speed, the demand for digital hardware will grow enormously. India has developed world-class strengths in chip design. I clearly foresee India becoming a major hub for state-of-the-art semiconductor industry,” said Ambani, emphasizing that India should not rely on large-scale imports of digital hardware.

He also highlighted that when all the stakeholders work together, “we can surely ensure that India’s success in hardware will match our success in software.”

The Chairman’s speech during the inaugural session of the Mobile Congress contained four different approaches needed to transform India the world’s pre-eminent digital economy.

Let’s jump right in.

The leap from 2G

Ambani noted that 300 million mobile subscribers in India are still using 2G services; he called on the government to take active steps to allow these users to bridge this gap, bringing them into the country’s digital economy.

This will push local telcos to abandon their legacy 2G infrastructure to reduce costs and increase profitability.

Early 5G rollout

Ambani stressed that for India to remain as a strong digitally connected nation, the public sector must accelerate and incentivize early 5G rollout, with a need for affordable services due to the country’s price sensitive market.

The Chairman’s final comments hint at the country’s expensive 5G spectrum prices.

Exporting Indian ingenuity

Ambani stressed that the Jio Platforms set list of services, which includes over 20 partnering startups, to be exported to the world following their trial runs within the local market.

Jio Platforms’ family services include various fields such as education, healthcare, financial services, as well as new commerce, and infrastructure.

Localized digital hardware

The Reliance Chairman stressed the need for India to push toward becoming a major hub for the state-of-the-art semiconductor industry, while shedding away their imports.