‘Today, India is ranked 155th in the world for mobile broadband Internet access, out of 230 countries. Jio is conceived to change this. I have no doubt that with the launch of Jio, India's rank will go up to among the top ten.’ With these words on September 1, 2016, at the launch of Reliance Jio, Shri Mukesh D. Ambani began India’s journey to truly revolutionize the Digital India dream of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
The United Nations has declared Internet a basic human right. Yet out of the total 4 billion people in the world that don’t have Internet access, India accounted for 25% of them, which is 1 billion. Most of the people around the world who don’t have Internet access live in the rural areas, low income countries and face infrastructure hurdles. Keeping these factors in mind, India’s focus to realize its Digital India dreams should be on these three elements of connectivity. India has a vast potential of a growing digital economy, jobs coming through these mediums and an increased GDP numbers by bringing in more people on to the digital platform by making data access easier and smart phones cheaper.
According to the report from IAMAI, the country was estimated to have 371 million mobile internet users by June 2016. Growth figures of mobile internet users and the total number of internet users in India suggest that mobile connectivity is the preferred choice for internet connectivity. As per the IAMAI report in 2015, the share of mobile internet spend in the average monthly bill rose to 64% from 54% in the previous year. While the government is working to make broadband available in every village in India it is imperative that even private players in this field step up their game to make data access better and affordable.
Reliance Jio, is not just planning to cater to 4G data on mobiles, but also expand to fibre-optic broadband for homes. The company has also laid more than 2.5 lakh kms of fibre-optic cables, covering 18,000 cities and over one lakh villages and has an initial end-to-end capacity to serve in excess of 100 million wireless broadband and 20 million Fibre-to-Home customers.
India’s 15.1% population is connected to the internet vis a vis 45.8% in China, 84.2% in USA and 86.2% in Japan. The best part is that Indians are moving closer towards realizing a Digital India in terms of average Internet speeds with pricing which is affordable and accessible. Jio network plans to change connectivity and data access through aggressive data pricing and assured better speeds. Jio’s announcement not to charge ever for voice or text messaging within India has shaken the rivals. If rivals call it ‘predatory’ pricing, it’s their problem. For Jio, customer is the king.
With economic reforms in the 1990s, telecommunications became a thrust area with many service providers entering the space to provide cellular services at higher rates making it out of reach for most Indians. However that hegemony was challenged in 2002 after Reliance Infocom (now Reliance Communication) entered the fray carrying forward Dhirubhai Ambani’s dream of a mobile telephone in every Indian’s hand by making it affordable. Now we witness history being repeated by Shri Mukesh D. Ambani under the Jio brand. Now since India’s digital dreams powered by Jio are truly unleashed, let thousands and lakhs of young dreams bloom and millions of new businesses be created! Jio Hind!
(Shri Parimal Nathwani is Rajya Sabha MP and Group President Corporate Affairs Reliance Industries Limited)