NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani on Thursday unveiled ambitious plans for his digital and telecom empire, deepening his company’s ties with tech behemoths Google, Facebook and Microsoft. The move comes at a time when Ambani is preparing to transition his mobile customers to 5G and looking to launch highly affordable Android smartphones on September 10.
Ambani raised Rs 1.5 lakh crore over the past year for digital businesses (including from Facebook and Google) housed under Jio Platforms.
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He said he wants to not only consolidate and modernise his telecom and tech operations in India, but also grow his operations globally. “We are indeed privileged to have partners like Facebook, Google and Microsoft, in whose company, our efforts to create a digital society in India seems that much easier,” Ambani told shareholders.
Reliance is working on “ultra-affordable” smartphone the JioPhone Next with Google and has started “an initial set of integrations” between Facebook-owned instant messenger WhatsApp and Reliance’s digital retail arm Jio Mart on a trial basis. With Microsoft, the company has operationalised an initial 10MW capacity of Jio-Azure Cloud Data centres in Jamnagar and Nagpur.
While racing towards indigenous 5G capabilities, Ambani is also expanding his home broadband network through the Jio Fibre business, which currently has 3 million subscribers. “Recently, we received the necessary regulatory approvals… as well as trial spectrum for initiating 5G field-trials. As I speak to you, the entire 5G standalone network has been installed in our data centres across the nation and also at our trial sites in Navi Mumbai. We are confident of being the first to launch fullfledged 5G services,” Ambani told shareholders.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who joined through video conferencing, said teams of the two companies have optimised a version of Android OS especially for the Jio device.
Jio and Google Cloud also announced a new 5G partnership that aims to help Reliance customers connect to a faster internet, while supporting businesses in digital transformation. “Jio will use Google Cloud’s cutting-edge technologies to power Jio’s 5G solutions,” Ambani said.