Reliance Jio has plans to launch 5G services in the second half of 2021, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Tuesday. Speaking at the India Mobile Congress, Ambani said policy steps are needed to accelerate an 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 indigenous-developed network, hardware and technology components. Jio's 5G service will be a testimony to your inspiring vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat," Ambani said.
“I can say with utmost confidence that 5G will enable India to not only participate in the fourth industrial revolution but also to lead it,”he added.
While Reliance Jio has been talking about a 5G rollout as soon as spectrum is sold, rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd believe that the technology is at least two years away as India does not the ecosystem and the reserve price for spectrum is expensive.
The country however also has a 2G network that supports only voice calling and text messaging.
"As many as 300 million mobile subscribers in India are still trapped in the 2G era. Urgent policy steps are needed to ensure that these underprivileged people have an affordable smartphone so that they too can benefit from direct benefit transfer into their bank accounts, and actively participate in the digital economy," he said.
India has over a billion phone users. His company offers low-priced smartphones that allow internet access.
"I can say with utmost confidence that 5G will enable India to not only participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution but also to lead it," he said.
As the digitalisation of the Indian economy and Indian society picks up speed, the demand for digital hardware will grow enormously.
"We cannot rely on large-scale imports in this area of critical national need," Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Ltd, said.
Stating that many leading global companies are coming to India to set up manufacturing facilities, he said the country has developed world-class strengths in chip design.
Jio Platforms, with its family of over 20 start-up partners, has built world-class capabilities in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data, machine learning, the internet of things and blockchain.
"We are creating compelling home-grown solutions in education, healthcare, agriculture, infrastructure, financial services and new commerce," he said.
Ambani said India has the historic opportunity to become the world's pre-eminent digital society with ease of living for all. "My conviction comes from the enormous transformative power of the digital technologies," he said.
India, he said, has two unique strengths - the confluence of three D's — vibrant democracy, young demography and digital transformation, and the visionary and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While the outbreak of COVID-19 posed life-threatening challenges, high-speed 4G connectivity infrastructure has proved to be India's Digital Lifeline, he said.
Throughout 2020, India worked online, studied online, shopped online, received healthcare online, socialised online, played online. "Simply put, India thrived online."
With the coronavirus induced recession behind, Ambani said the Indian economy will not only bounce back but will also grow with unprecedented acceleration.
"India can — and India will — prove cynics wrong by becoming a USD 5 trillion economy," he said. "It will be a more equal India, with increased incomes, increased employment, and improved quality of life for 1 billion Indians at the middle and bottom of the economic pyramid."
(With PTI inputs)