Jio to "pioneer" 5G revolution in India, eyes 2021 roll out

Jio to "pioneer" 5G revolution in India, eyes 2021 roll out

Mukesh Ambani.jpg

India could get its first 5G services in the second half of 2021 after Reliance boss Mukesh Ambani said Jio would "pioneer the 5G revolution".

Speaking at the India Mobile Congress this week, Ambani called for "policy steps" to accelerate the roll out and confirmed that Reliance Jio is planning to launch 5G services across India in H2 of next year.

Ambani said: "India is today among the best digitally connected nations in the world. In order 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."

He added: "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."

India banned Huawei and ZTE from its 5G networks in August but this month the Department of Telecommunications said Huawei would join Ericsson, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies in working groups to study 5G deployments.

Despite the global pandemic and economic situation, Jio has gained significant strength over the course of 2020, courting new investors from around the world, and Ambani has repeatedly set out plans to accelerate the digital economy in India.

In July, Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, took a 1.5% equity stake in Jio Platforms for US$97 million, specifically to support the advancement of 5G.

The same month, Alphabet’s Google took a 7.73% stake in Jio Platforms, paving the way for the two to collaborate on entry level, affordable smartphones. Google has also committed US$10 billion to a digitalisation fund, specifically for India.

However, India delayed 4G and 5G spectrum auctions in May, citing Covid-19 lockdowns, and concerns have since been raised that this delay would slow the overall roll out of next-generation technology.

Last month, Rajen Vagadia, VP and President, Qualcomm India and SAARC, was quoted by the media as saying the case for 5G in India was "compelling".

He added: "The government and policy makers can trigger growth of the Indian telecom market by releasing spectrum, including 5G, in adequate quantity and at affordable prices."

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