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After disrupting mobile telephony market, billionaire Mukesh Ambani is now looking to repeat the feat in fixed-line broadband services as he on Monday announced the rollout, next month, of optical fibre-based high-speed internet bundled with HD television viewing at less than one-tenth of global rates.
Reliance Jio, Ambani's vehicle for re-entry into the telecom space, had three years back begun mobile services, offering free voice calling and data. That got millions hooked on to his network which started charging for internet data usages from April 1, 2017, while voice calls continue to remain free.
Jio's Rs 3.5 lakh crore investment in 4G telecom services coupled with aggressive pricing had unleashed intense competition in the market that forced rivals to either fold up or merge to better compete with it. Now, Jio is set to launch the fixed-line broadband services from September 5.
Speaking at the 42nd Annual General Meeting (AGM), Reliance Industries' Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said Jio Fiber will offer free voice calls for life from landlines, 100 mbps minimum broadband speed at subscription starting from Rs 700 a month and free HD TV set on a commitment to an annual plan.
Jio will also offer unlimited international calling pack from its landlines to the US and Canada at Rs 500 a month, and even its default tariff plans will be one-fifth to one-tenth of existing market tariffs, Ambani said, declaring the "lowest" landline rates for international calling.
Jio Fiber's plans will be priced at Rs 700-10,000 per month "to suit every budget", and the basic plans will begin at 100 Mbps and go all the way up to 1 Gbps.
"...the average fixed-line download speed in the US, which is the most developed economy, is around 90 Mbps. In India, even the most basic Jio Fiber plan starts with 100 Mbps speed and we have plans all the way up to 1 Gbps or 1,000 Mbps," Ambani said, adding that this would improve the quality of fixed-line data in India.
Less than three years since its launch, Jio has amassed over 340 million mobile subscribers and is now not just the largest operator in India but also the second largest single country operator in the world, Ambani said.
It is pertinent to mention here that older operators -- Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea -- have been locked in a bruising tariff war following the entry of Reliance Jio. Jio's free voice and dirt-cheap data offerings in the past have dented the financial metrics of these older operators, deepening the impact of regulatory decisions like cut in termination charges, even though the voice and data usage, per se, have been growing at a scorching pace.
"We are at what I call the end of the beginning of the Jio story," Ambani promised at the shareholders' meeting on Monday. His 90-minute speech captured the immense possibilities of digital life, including ultra high definition entertainment, virtual reality content, multi party video conferencing and interactive gaming.
Ambani said Jio Fiber will launch a premium offering as part of which customers can watch movies in their living rooms on the same day the movies are released in theatres. This service will be launched in the mid 2020.
The Jio Fiber plans will come bundled with subscriptions to most leading premium over-the-top (OTT) applications.
The company will also offer special mobility service for Jio Fiber users to deliver a platinum-grade service and product experience. Jio Postpaid Plus will provide priority SIM-setup service at home, offering data and voice connectivity across all devices, along with family plans and international roaming at a fraction of a cost.
"The experience of Jio Fiber and Jio Set Top Box really comes to life when combined with an LED TV. So, Jio Fiber customers who opt for our annual plans which we call Jio Forever plans, will get an HD or 4K LED TV and a 4K set top box absolutely free," he said.
Jio set-top box, he said, is designed to accept the broadcast cable TV signals from the existing LCO (local cable operator) partners.
It has been scaling up Jio Giga Fibre infrastructure in various cities over the last few months, and half a million homes already have access to it, on a trial basis. Ambani said that since its announcement last year, Jio received over 15 million registrations from nearly 1,600 towns.
"And based on these registrations, we have drawn up a plan to reach 20 million residences and 15 million business establishments in these 1,600 towns," Ambani said.
Jio's Internet of Things (IoT) platform will be commercially available starting January 1, 2020.
"Jio aims to connect at least 1 billion of these (connected devices) on Jio's IoT platform. This translates into a Rs 20,000 crore per year revenue opportunity for Jio," Ambani added.
The company has received strong interest from strategic and financial investors for its consumer businesses -- Jio and Reliance Retail.
"We will induct leading global partners in these businesses in the next few quarters, and move towards listing of both these companies within the next five years," he pointed out.