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From 5G To WhatsApp Partnership — Reliance Jio’s Plans For 2021


If 2020 was the yr when Jio Platforms stuffed its battle chest via a sequence of funding rounds from a number of worldwide buyers, 2021 can be the yr that may see the corporate double down on its promise of powering India’s transfer to a really digital financial system. Jio would do that via its suite of tech merchandise, providing options throughout schooling, healthcare, ecommerce and leisure, amongst a number of others. The corporate would look to supply its bevy of tech options on its ‘Made in India’ Android smartphones. Most significantly, it might need clients to be utilizing Jio’s at the moment in-trial fifth-generation cell networks or 5G service for accessing these options. 

In some ways, 2021 can be the yr after we would have the ability to gauge whether or not Jio can furnish an all-wise ‘tremendous app’ in India, a time period borrowed from China the place WeChat gives a variety of options via a single platform to its clients. 

The encouraging signal for Jio’s ambitions is that we may even see India conduct auctions for the 5G spectrum within the first half of 2021. 

Whereas talking on the inaugural session of the India Cellular Congress 2020, Reliance Jio chairman Mukesh Ambani urged the Indian authorities to expedite the rollout of the 5G know-how within the nation, stressing on the necessity to make India 2G-mukt.

Days later on the similar occasion, officers from the authorities stated it might quickly announce the spectrum bands for the rollout of 5G companies within the nation. 

Moreover client and enterprise telecommunication companies, 5G will likely be used for defence, aerospace and tv and radio broadcasting as properly. Given that every of those requires a devoted spectrum to function with out interference, the broad spectrum is split up based mostly on the frequencies. 

It’s price noting that Ambani’s repeated push for a fast rollout of 5G within the nation, is geared toward Reliance Jio buying the roughly 300 Mn cell web customers in India who’re nonetheless utilizing 2G cell networks. These customers type a major chunk of the consumer base of different telcos similar to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Concept, which have largely phased out 3G cell networks however have 40-50% of their customers nonetheless utilizing 2G companies, in line with some estimates. A national shift from 4G to 5G can be the possibility Ambani is on the lookout for, to additional broaden Jio’s consumer base within the nation. 

In October, Reliance started the trials for its 5G know-how together with US-based Qualcomm and claimed to have achieved a pace of 1 gigabyte (GB) per second. 

On the occasion talked about above, Ambani emphatically claimed that Jio would pioneer India’s 5G revolution within the second half of 2021, a lot to the chagrin of Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Airtel, who stated on the similar occasion that India wasn’t prepared for the rollout of 5G. 

Under we revisit a number of the guarantees about tech services made by Jio this yr, which, in line with the corporate, are slated to be fulfilled in 2021. 

Making Android Smartphones With Google

Jio, with certainly one of its strategic buyers Google, would look to roll out 100 Mn low-cost 4G or probably 5G-enabled smartphones, at a fraction of their present price per unit, in 2021. Whereas the 100 Mn determine is predicated on varied information stories citing sources, the plan for constructing smartphones in collaboration with Google is straight from the horse’s mouth. 

On the Reliance Annual Common Assembly (AGM) in July this yr, Ambani had introduced that Jio and Google would accomplice to construct such a smartphone at an reasonably priced value. He had additionally stated that to energy such a “value-engineered smartphone, we additionally want an equally value-engineered smartphone working system (OS).” Ambani had introduced that Google and Jio would accomplice to construct an Android-based smartphone OS. 

In accordance with a PTI report, Reliance, via its telecom enterprise Jio, is planning to roll out 5G-enabled smartphones at an preliminary value of round INR 5,000, which will likely be subsequently lowered to round INR 2,500 as manufacturing scales up. In accordance with stories, the manufacturing of those smartphones will likely be outsourced to Indian distributors.

These telephones may very well be out available in the market by early subsequent yr. It stays to be seen whether or not Jio’s Android smartphone can achieve a foothold within the nation’s smartphone market, which is at the moment dominated by Chinese language firms similar to Vivo and Xiaomi. The Chinese language smartphone makers took over the Indian market beginning late-2016 and brought on the loss in market share for Indian firms similar to Micromax. 

Steady iterations in {hardware} specs and affordability has meant that these Chinese language telephone makers are nonetheless very related in India. They’ve been capable of drive down costs by manufacturing smartphones in India. In such a market, Jio’s Android smartphone can have its process reduce out. 

Ecommerce Play Via JioMart, Social Commerce Via WhatsApp To Widen

Reliance’s on-line grocery retailer JioMart, launched earlier this yr, already has restricted integration with WhatsApp in place. Customers can message ‘Hello’ to a telephone quantity for JioMart, following which, a chat with the shop’s digital assistant can be initiated. Via this chat, one can monitor the standing of their orders and make an merchandise or refund-related queries. 

It has been reported that in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later, JioMart may change into a ‘mini-app’ on WhatsApp. If such a partnership does materialise, it might ostensibly be a win-win for each. For JioMart, it might permit the corporate entry to WhatsApp’s greater than 400 Mn customers in India. 

For WhatsApp, customers purchasing via its platform would imply a possibility to drive up funds via its newly-launched funds software WhatsApp Pay. WhatsApp Enterprise already facilitates the social commerce mannequin for a number of Indian startups which purpose to leverage the community-driven reselling mannequin to realize gross sales.

Will Citizen Anger Spoil Jio’s Celebration?

Regardless that Jio disrupted the Indian telecom market with its dirt-cheap information plans — launched in 2016 — which drove down the costs available in the market and contributing considerably to web penetration within the nation, the corporate’s chairman Mukesh Ambani has come to be recognized as a logo of crony capitalism in citizen-led actions. The latest instance for a similar is the continuing protests towards the brand new farm legal guidelines enacted by the central authorities, the place protesting farmers have alleged that the legal guidelines would work to the detriment of poor farmers and to the advantage of corporates similar to Reliance and the Adani Group. 

Earlier this week, movies surfaced of members of a village Panchayat in Punjab shutting down Jio’s cell towers, as a part of their protest towards the farm legal guidelines. It has been additional reported that protesting farmers in Punjab have snapped energy provide to Jio’s cell towers in a number of elements of the state, together with Nawanshahr, Ferozepur, Mansa, Barnala, Fazilka, Patiala and Moga districts up to now few weeks. 

Jio has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), blaming its rivals Vodafone and Airtel for spreading rumours in Punjab that Jio would achieve from the implementation of the farm legal guidelines. 

It’s price noting that slicing provide to cell towers would have an effect on the availability of web companies, one thing that would have a unfavourable impression on the lives of a number of folks, from college students to working professionals. The truth is, even in occasions of emergency, the web is a necessity, which means that the steps taken by the farmers in Punjab, to snap energy provide to Jio’s cell towers isn’t a prudent tactic for voicing their protest with a call of the central authorities. Even these trying to port their quantity to different service suppliers similar to Airtel must wait as much as 48 hours for his or her web companies to renew. 

Nonetheless, it stays to be seen if such protest ways boil over, or die down with good sense prevailing. 

JioPhones Might Make A Comeback

Within the new yr, Jio would look to relaunch its ultra-affordable characteristic telephones, referred to as JioPhone, whose manufacturing was impacted this yr resulting from element provide points amid the pandemic. As soon as offered at a value level under INR 700, it has been reported that the worth may improve to round INR 1,000 resulting from an increase in element costs. The brand new JioPhone can be bundled with a Jio 4G subscription plan, thus facilitating the migration of 2G and 3G customers with rival telecom firms similar to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Concept, to Reliance Jio. Therefore, the JioPhone can be one other effort by Ambani to make India 2G-mukt or freed from 2G. 

JioPhone, which was initially launched in 2017, turned an enormous hit for Reliance resulting from its reasonably priced pricing. However the market has modified so much since 2017. Given the necessity for a smartphone today for distant working and studying, a characteristic telephone is a troublesome promote. 

In June this yr, the corporate launched the Jio UPI ID for customers in choose cities similar to Mumbai and Delhi-NCR, together with some cities in different states/areas of the nation such because the North East, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Kerala, Rajasthan and Haryana. Reliance stated that the Jio UPI ID permits the MyJio App to change into an excellent app for all digital transactions amongst Jio clients. 

In August, round 1,000 JioPhone customers had been capable of make and obtain UPI funds via the JioPay software on their characteristic telephone. It’s to be anticipated that in 2021, the corporate would look to additional broaden its market presence within the digital funds area, via JioPhone. 


Whereas it isn’t identified when Jio’s most leading edge product will hit the market, speculations are rife concerning the combined actuality answer hitting the market in 2021. Jio Glass was demoed at Reliance’s AGM this yr in July. The corporate stated that Jio Glass is designed for academics and college students to allow 3D digital rooms and conduct holographic lessons by way of the Jio Combined Actuality service in real-time. Jio Glass, which weighs 75 grams, will include 25 in-built apps to permit augmented actuality video conferences and extra. By utilizing the product, a consumer will have the ability to be a part of a digital assembly, not on their standard 2D screens, however as a digital 3D avatar. Jio Glass’s demo had amazed many netizens, a few of them saying, ‘the longer term is right here’.

Moreover these, there’ll possible be extra upgrades and enhancements made to Jio’s present merchandise, starting from its healthtech app JioHealthHub to the video conferencing answer JioMeet.

Most significantly, all eyes will likely be on whether or not the corporate is ready to realise its 5G ambitions in 2021. Though, that wouldn’t be with out its personal share of challenges. 




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