Almost 13 years after it first made splashes by foraying into the telecom space with its CDMA services, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries on Sunday heralded its second coming with the nationwide soft-launch of its 4G mobile services via its subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm. The launch, on the eve of the 83rd birth anniversary of Dhirubhai Ambani, which was attended by the group’s 35,000 employees and their families at the Reliance Corporate Park in Navi Mumbai, had around 80,000 more tuned in to the event from 1,000-plus locations across the country and one in Dallas, Texas in the US.
“While you enjoy Jio Digital Life, I am also counting on you, as part of my family, to be part of co-creating the best experience for all our customers. I am sure that when you experience the next-generation service of Reliance Jio — you will spread the word,” chairman Mukesh Ambani said at the soft launch of the services. “India is ranked around 150 in internet and mobile broadband penetration out of 230 countries, Jio is conceived to change this… 1.3 billion Indians cannot be left behind as the world enters a new era. I have no doubt that with the launch of Jio, India’s rank will go up from around 150 to among the top 10 in the next few years for internet and mobile broadband penetration,” he added.
The soft launch, which is for the group’s employees, saw performances by Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who’s also the brand ambassador for Jio, and Oscar-winning music director A R Rahman. The event also witnessed twins Isha and Akash take the stage to speak about Jio and the promised digital life. On his part, Mukesh engaged in a dialogue with Khan on the stage.
Unlike the 2002 launch, when younger brother Anil Ambani had not showed up, this time he was present with wife Tina Ambani and sons Jai Anmol and Jai Anshul. Dhirubhai’s wife Kokilaben was also present.
The strategy behind having a soft launch for employees before a full-fledged commercial one is that “the last and the slightest wrinkle would be smoothed out to perfection before the all-India commercial services. Nothing is being left to chance. It is a glowing testimony to the company’s commitment to provide consumers with an exhaustively tried and tested, highest quality digital services,” company sources said.
Reliance Jio basically promises to bring in a bouquet of services integrating voice, data and high-speed broadband at the most competitive price points, a perfect setting for another round of tariff war in the sector. Already, a pan-India launch of 4G services has been done by the market leader Bharti Airtel. The second and third largest player, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, have also recently joined the bandwagon with launches across a few cities and districts.
A peek into the kind of competition in store can be gauged from the fact that analysts of Credit Suisse, who have tested Jio’s 4G network, claim it is faster than that of Airtel. For instance, the analysts claim to have experienced peak download speed of 70 Mbps on most occasions and in the 15-30 Mbps range while on the move. In comparison, Airtel 4G gives 10-20 Mbps.
Analysts, rival operators and consumers have for long waited for the launch of services by Rjio, which re-entered the telephony market in 2010 by acquiring Infotel Broadband, which was the only company to bag broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum in all the 22 circles in the country. The Mukesh Ambani firm went on to acquire spectrum in the 1800 Mhz band across 14 circles in the February 2014 auctions, and subsequently acquired spectrum in 800 Mhz in 10 circles and 1800 Mhz in six circles in this year’s auction. As a result, today the company having spent Rs 34,000 crore in acquiring spectrum assets in the last five years has the largest footprint of liberalised spectrum in the country and is suitably positioned to provide a range of voice and high-speed data services.