Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio) has unveiled the next phase of disruption by announcing the commercial launch of a high-speed broadband services optical fibre network across 1,100 cities in India. The telco is likely to bundle offerings across broadband, internet-based set-top box for television and voice telephony.
“We will now use fibre connectivity to homes, merchants, small and medium enterprises and large enterprises simultaneously across 1,100 cities to offer the most advanced fibre-based broadband connectivity solutions,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), at the company’s 41st annual general meeting (AGM) in Mumbai on Thursday.
Talking about the wired broadband foray touted Jio GigaFiber, Ambani said, “The Company has already invested more than 250 million dollars in the industry. We will now extend the service to 1100 cities to offer the most advanced fibre-based broadband services. This would mean a faster internet experience. A virtual reality experience for all citizens where you can control switches in your house from outside as well. This will also redefine 24×7 emergency help for all homes across India.”
JioFiber has already been launched in select markets across the country. It currently offers fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband connections with 1.1TB (terabytes) of free data at a speed of 100 mbps.
Calling “Optical fibre-based fixed-line broadband the future,” Ambani said, India has a relatively poor track record in the fixed line broadband market due to depleting infrastructure. He promised that RJio will take India to the top five in fixed-line broadband services globally.
Ever since Reliance Jio launched its wireless mobile services in 2016, telecom sector has witnessed disruptions in several ways. Data tariffs became super cheap, consumption of video saw phenomenal growth, and the industry has consolidated to just three to four players forcing many small players to move out of the race. Moreover, surviving operators are striving to boost customer service like never before in a bid to retain market share.
Thursday’s announcement, could disrupt the market, leading to a tariff war, much like what the telecom sector witnessed last year when RJio entered the market. Much like the consolidation in the telecom industry, the Internet and cable services sector too could see incumbent players joining hands to fight the might of RJio.
Currently, data usage of Indian telecom subscribers is far from the potential and is also the biggest revenue source for all players. However, higher tariffs prevented operators from cashing in, though that changed significantly following RJio’s entry. As per estimates, subscribers use 2 GB data every month as against 0.23 GB prior to RJio, which now intends to further boost the usage via its fibre network offering.
While this massive uptake of data has been driven by smartphones, optical fibre networks are crucial for securing India’s broadband future. As data consumption keeps growing exponentially and with new technologies such as 5G on the way, wireless platforms will not be enough to meet the demands of bandwidth-guzzling consumers. By leveraging on the digital connectivity, RJio wants to focus on bigger opportunities, such as India’s healthcare and retail segments.
RJio also unveiled the JioPhone2, priced at Rs. 2,999, which will be available from August 15. It has rolled out a ‘Monsoon Hungama’ scheme under which old feature phones can exchanged for a new JioPhone for Rs. 501. In terms of feature updates, JioPhone and JioPhone 2 will now support WhatsApp and YouTube applications. The addition of WhatsApp on the JioPhone is a bid deal, as WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging services in India, with over 200 million active user in India and 1.5 billion users globally.
As per the company, RJio has become the third-largest telecom company after Airtel and Vodafone. The company’s subscriber base reached 215 million in 22 months. The company says the data usage has grown from 125 crore GBs per month to more than 240 crore GBs per month. At the same time, voice usage on the network has grown from 250 crore minutes per day to more than 530 crore minutes per day, it said.