Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries and Reliance Jio, today announced his company’s fiber optic service will reach 50 million households — or about a fifth of India’s population.
Ambani, however, did not give a timeline for when he expects to achieve this milestone.
Nevertheless, the number is still significant as industry experts differ widely on the number of households in India that can eventually be ‘fiberized’.
Many believe that only the top 10 or 20 million households in the country can be connected to a fiber networks, while others believe that all the 90 million plus households that are currently on various cable TV networks can be converted to fiber households.
The remaining will never be brought under a wired network because they are simply too far away for it to make economic or commercial sense. Jio seems to have picked 50 million a good number to work with.
Expressing his confidence, Ambani pointed to his company’s record of transforming India’s digital and internet landscape in four years.
“Before Jio, India was stuck with 2G technology,” said Ambani, speaking at Digital Transformation world series organized by industry alliance, TM Forum.
“Jio wanted to end India’s data misery and unleash a digital revolution,” he went on, pointing out how the company built a pan-India, high-speed 4G wireless network in three years, while the industry had taken nearly 25 years to build out its pan-India 2G coverage.
“And to ensure widespread adoption of data, we launched with the lowest data tariffs in the world… Before Jio… over half a billion Indians were left out of the digital movement because they couldn’t afford smartphones and had to make do with 2G feature phones.
“Our young and talented Jio engineers rose to the challenge of designing the world’s ultra-affordable breakthrough device called the JioPhone. That provided a window to the world of limitless possibilities for over 100 million Indians in less than a year.”
With that, Ambani pointed out, the revolution set-off by the company catapulted India from No.155 in the world in terms of mobile data consumption to No.1 in just four years.
“India’s monthly consumption went up from 0.2 billion GB to 1.2 billion GB… a growth of 600%… and data consumption has been multiplying ever since. Today, India consumes over 6 exabytes of data every month… more than 30 times pre-Jio levels, just four years ago.”
He said Jio shattered the belief that India must always be a ‘follower’ of Western countries when it comes to technology adoption and never a leader.
“To further extend our global leadership in connectivity, Jio is now rolling out a high-speed, low-latency optic fiber network to more than 50 million homes and premises across 2000 towns and cities in India,” he added.
NEXT INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
Ambani also promised that India will be at the forefront of the next industrial revolution.
“India missed out on the first two industrial revolutions and the changes brought about by them. During the third industrial revolution, where Information Technology came to prominence, India joined the race but still remained behind, trying to catch up with the leaders.
“As we step into the fourth industrial revolution, India has the opportunity, not just to catch up with the leaders but to emerge as a global leader itself. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is driven by the convergence of digital and physical technologies… such as Digital connectivity, Cloud and Edge computing, IoT and smart devices, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Blockchain, AR/VR and genomics.
“And the three foundational requirements needed to participate in this revolution are ultra-high-speed connectivity, affordable smart devices and transformational digital applications and solutions,” he added.
“I can say with utmost confidence that India will play a leading role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
He said Jio has “significant capabilities” in areas like Cloud and Edge Computing, Big Data Analytics, AI & Machine Learning, Blockchain, AR/ VR and IoT.
“Using these technologies, Jio Platforms is in the process of creating compelling solutions for multiple industry verticals and ecosystems spanning Telecom, Media and Entertainment, New Commerce, Financial Services, Education, Healthcare and Agriculture. We believe that these will have a transformative effect on the social, economic and full development of India. This is just the beginning for India.”
He said these solutions will not be limited to the Indian market, but can be used to address similar needs in other parts of the world.