Reliance Jio and US-based Qualcomm will join hands to fast-track the deployment of 5G mobile internet based on homegrown technologies, putting India in an exclusive club of nations with the capability to offer superfast speeds of 1 gigabyte per second (Gbps) to users.
The partnership builds on the commitment by Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, who announced in July that Jio was developing made-in-India 5G technology, giving the country control over coveted know-how that is the foundation of a digital economy.
The two companies also announced that they achieved speeds of 1 Gbps on Jio’s 5G solution using a Qualcomm platform. For illustration, what this means is that it will be possible to download a typical movie with a file size of one gigabyte in just one second.
The partnership also includes Radisys Corporation, a US subsidiary of Jio.
With an indigenous network, India will not have to rely on equipment from Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE, thus obviating a potential security threat to crucial national infrastructure.
“This achievement not only supports Jio’s 5G credentials, but also signifies the entry of Jio and India into the Gigabit 5G NR product portfolio,” the two companies said in a statement.
NR, or New Radio, describes a 5G standard comprising a group of technologies. It is akin to LTE, or Long-Term Evolution, which describes the 4G standard. Jio’s 5G technologies are based on the globally-accepted NR standard.
Jio Platforms, the parent company of India’s largest mobile operator, has raised Rs 1.52 lakh crore this year from a bevy of global investors, including Facebook, Google, Silver Lake and KKR. Qualcomm Ventures, the venture investment arm of the US company, has invested Rs 720 crore in Jio Platforms in July.
“The development of secure RAN solutions with Qualcomm Technologies combined with Jio Platforms and scale provides the ideal combination for local manufacturing and for accelerating the realisation of Atmanirbhar Bharat for an inclusive 5G nation,” Mathew Oommen, the President of Reliance Jio Infocomm was quoted as saying.
RAN, or Radio Access Networks, manage radio communications between the base station and the user’s mobile device.
At present, only a handful of countries, including the US, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland and Germany offer 1 Gbps speeds to 5G users. India is expected to auction 5G airwaves in 2021, and Ambani has said that Jio is ready to deploy its network the same year.
“Jio is ready with a world class 5G solution. Field deployment can happen next year. This 5G product will be available for trials as soon as spectrum is available. Jio Platforms will be positioned for 5G solution to other telecom operators,” he said at the 43rd Annual General Meeting of RIL in July.
Durga Malladi, Qualcomm’s Senior Vice-President for 4G and 5G, said the US company recently achieved the milestone of over 1 Gbps milestone on the Reliance Jio 5G NR product using Qualcomm 5G RAN platforms. “We look forward to expanding our efforts with Reliance Jio to enable flexible and scalable 5G RAN deployment,” he said.
Jio is also in partnership with Google and is developing affordable 4G and 5G smartphones based on Android, a development which could bring cheap smartphones to hundreds of millions of Indians and undercut dominant vendors from China.
Disclosure: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.