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WhatsApp, YouTube, and Facebook on JioPhone; telco announces fiber broadband

Reliance’s JioPhone will have native apps that support YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp, the company announced at their Annual General Meeting. A software update on 15th August will install these apps on JioPhones, the company said. The company also announced a second generation device labelled the JioPhone 2 at the event. The device will be priced at Rs 2999 (this is an introductory price) with a QWERTY keypad, that will also be releasing on the 15th of August. Mukesh Ambani said that 25 million JioPhone handsets have been sold so far. He said that Jio’s subscriber base doubled in the last financial year.

Watch the AGM Presentation

JioGigaFiber announced

Jio’s fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) efforts have been on beta in a few thousand homes. The company said that on August 15th, users will be able to register interest for JioGigaFiber. The company will prioritize neighbourhoods with high demand but will be simultaneously doing the rollout in over a thousand cities. No tariffs were announced for JioGigaFiber. This could be because the company may price differentially across different cities depending on the costs that come with each neighbourhood.

ReadJio website accidentally announces fiber plans: 3 months of 100Mbps capped at 100GB (2017)

The company said that the connection speed will be 1Gbps, the same as Google Fiber in the US, and ACT Broadband and Spectra’s offering in some Indian cities. Ambani said that this will be the world’s largest greenfield rollout of a broadband service. The company aims to have 5 crore fiber connections.

Smart home ecosystem

Jio is supplementing its broadband offering with a suite of smart home products. That includes smart TV apps, a smart speaker, IoT appliances, and automated doors and doorbells. It’s unclear if this suite will be separately charged from the broadband or will be included with the connection rental.

With the smart TV app, the company will allow calls to phone numbers, just like the Apple Watch. This will presumably work on eSIM technology that lets the same phone number be used across multiple devices like smartwatches and smart TVs. The WiFi calling will also work on the JioPhone 2.

Isha Ambani said that the smart TV will support real-time healthcare, though no specific products to this end were announced.

Online-offline commerce platform

The company also announced a “hybrid online-offline e-commerce platform”, where users will be able to order from nearby stores and Reliance Retail locations. The company said it expects tens of millions of customers and retailers to be a part of this platform through Jio apps as well as Reliance’s own retail ecosystem. Small store owners will provide “last-mile physical connectivity,” Ambani said. Through the deployment of a merchant POS, Ambani said, store owners and Reliance will be able to do what large e-commerce companies like Amazon do. “Augmented Reality, holographic technology and VR devices” will be used for assisting the shopping experience, Ambani said. Again, no specific products to enable this were announced.

This is what the company says its merchant POS will let storeowners do:

Ambani added that the technology will be used to ‘predict and anticipate’ customer demand for products.

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