Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL) telecom & digital arm Reliance Jio Infocomm, which recently confirmed that it will commence commercial operations by December this year, finally saw some activity in 2015, launching a chat service and rolling out WiFi on a pilot basis at some locations. A lowdown on highlights from Jio in 2014-15:
Jio reported operating revenues of Rs 415 crore for FY15, down 24% from Rs 546 crore operating revenues in FY14. The company’s “Other revenues” stood at Rs 42 crore for FY15, down 12.5% from Rs 48 crore in FY14. Other financial highlights:
– In FY15, RIL loaned Reliance Jio Infocomm Rs 5076 crore. As of March 31, 2015, the total amount loaned to Jio is Rs 16,813 crore.
– Reliance Jio Infocomm’s net assets are worth Rs 30,074 crore (as of March 31, 2015).
– Reliance Jio Infocomm has debt of Rs 22,305 crore.
– Jio Chat: Earlier this year in April, Reliance Jio launched its first product: a mobile messaging app with voice and video calling features called Jio Chat, which is available for Android and iOS devices. Jio Chat offers instant messaging, voice & video calling, one-to-one & group chats, conference calling, stickers and will even feature updates and offers from the user’s favourite brands. Jio Chat seems to have been inspired by the Japanese mobile messaging and calling app LINE a lot. Just like LINE, Jio Chat features Jio Chat Channels, that brands and most probably celebrities will be able to use to connect with users.
The company had, in December last year, launched a preview site (preview.jioconnect.com), which provided information on Reliance Jio’s broadband tariffs, digital services and connectivity bundles among others.
– Wi-Fi service: In January this year, Reliance Jio had tied-up with the West Bengal government to introduce 4G-enabled free Wi-Fi service across Kolkata. It began by providing free Wi-Fi service to citizens in Park Street and the surrounding areas like Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road, Loudon Street, Russell Street and Little Russell Street, and had claimed that all 145 municipal wards of the city will be covered over the next two months.
Last year, the company had launched free Wi-Fi hotspots in eight locations at Ahmedabad and nine locations at Baroda and Surat. While there was no official word on the average Internet speeds one could expect at these wi-fi hotspots, a DNA report had cited a company technician to suggest an average downloading speeds of 40 Mbps. It had also added that the service is being offered free for three months.
– MSO license: Earlier this month, Reliance Jio received a provisional licence to operate as a pan-India multi-system operator (MSO). The company had applied for the license in January this year. Apparently, Jio plans to use its Fibre to the Home (FTTH) connectivity to offer its prospective customers a number of services, including TV, high speed internet, telephone and wireless connectivity. It’s worth noting that earlier this year, and soon after applying for the MSO license, Reliance Jio had hired former Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd head K Jayaraman as its CEO and had also brought on board former CEO of Den Networks S.N. Sharma as part of the leadership team.
Reliance Jio team additions
The company added a number of key members to its team over the past 12 months or so:
– Pradeep Shrivastava, former director & chief marketing and commerce officer of Indonesian telecom major XL Axiata, was appointed as the chief marketing officer.
– Reliance Jio had roped in Anand Narang, former Huawei India devices marketing head, to head the marketing division of the company. He reports to former BlackBerry India chief Sunil Dutt, who had joined as president of devices business at Reliance Jio in mid-2014.
– Former Reliance Communications joint president and chief strategy officer Shamik Das joined as chief corporate development officer.
– Rainer Deutschmann, former Deutsche Telekom executive, was brought on board as Reliance Jio’s chief products and innovation officer.
– Exits: There have been a couple of exits as well over the past 12 months: Reliance Jio Infocomm’s president Sumit D Chowdhury had stepped down from his position in February this year. Post resignation, Chowdhury is pursuing his own venture GAIA Smart Cities, a full service M2M telecom solutions and services provider. A month before that, Sandip Das had stepped down as the managing director Reliance Jio and was expected to work as a mentor for the Jio division of Reliance Retail.
Net Neutrality: Jio takes an anti-Net Neutrality stand
Reliance Jio Infocomm, which had joined the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) as a core member of the GSM industry body in August last year, argued in its submission to the TRAI for a free market approach for VoIP and communication services, but, from what it seems, with their own variation of the definition of a free market. The telco wants a) registration of web based communication apps to address security issues, b) regulation of other (non-communication) Internet companies, c) zero rating, differential pricing of communications and other apps, d) no commercial charges on Internet communication services, e) no regulation of subscription charges, and that f) content and application providers cannot be forced to bear telecom network upgradation costs.
Spectrum Auctions: acquires fresh spectrum in 800 MHz & 1800 MHz
Reliance Jio Infocomm had acquired 71.05 MHz spectrum across the 800 MHz and 1800 MHz bands for Rs 9936.13 crore, during the March 2014 spectrum auction.
- In the 800 MHz band, it won a total of 43.05 MHz spectrum for Rs 7735.02 crore, across Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, North East, Odisha and UP (East) telecom circles.
- Mumbai was the most expensive circle in the 800 MHz band – Rs 3637.48 crore.
- In the 800 MHz band, Reliance Jio won maximum spectrum in: 4.92 MHz each in Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, North East and Odisha.
- The telco won 28 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band for Rs 2201.11 crore, in 6 circles: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and UP (East).
- It won maximum 1800 MHz spectrum in Rajasthan (10 MHz), and the most expensive 1800 MHz spectrum was Kolkata at Rs 745.50 crore.