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Reliance AGM 2021: Google Cloud partnership, updates on 5G and JioMart, new 4G smartphone, and other key announcements

In its 2021 annual general meeting (AGM) held on June 24, Reliance launched a new Android-enabled 4G smartphone (touted as the world’s most affordable one), expanded its partnership with Google on 5G and cloud technologies, shared updates on the JioMart-WhatsApp collaboration, revealed the performance of its Jio Fiber broadband operations, and announced that Jio will be the first to launch 5G in India. Here’s a complete summary of all the tech-related announcements made in the meeting.

Jio expands on its partnership with Google

Launch of new 4G smartphone with Google: Stating that nearly 300 million mobile users are still stuck on 2G networks because of exorbitant upgrading costs, Reliance launched a new 4G smartphone that it touts as the most affordable one in the world. The JioPhone Next smartphone was built in partnership with Google and runs an optimised version of Android, allowing users to install the full suite of apps available on Google’s PlayStore. The phone will be available in the market from September 10.

“Our teams have optimized a version of our Android OS, especially for this device. It will offer language and translation features, a great camera, and support for the latest Android updates. It’s built for India and will open up new possibilities for millions of new users who will experience the Internet for the very first time,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.

Google Cloud to power Jio’s 5G: Google Cloud and Jio are entering into a partnership to power the telecom’s upcoming 5G network. “Google Cloud will provide a complete end-to-end cloud offering for fully automated lifecycle management of Jio’s 5G network and services,” the company said. Jio is expected to use Google’s cloud infrastructure to provide scalable 5G services to hundreds of millions of Jio subscribers. “It will help more than a billion Indians connect to a faster and better Internet,” Pichai said.

“Google Cloud’s deep expertise and innovation, combined with telco-specific capabilities for security, performance, and resilience, will help Jio’s 5G service to deliver high-speed internet as demand for connectivity goes up. The two companies will collaborate to bring a portfolio of 5G edge computing solutions as Jio builds new services across many verticals including gaming, healthcare, education, and entertainment. These will be powered by Jio’s 5G network and Google Cloud’s innovations in AI/ML, data and analytics, and other cloud-native technologies.” – Google

Reliance core business will move to Google Cloud: Reliance will shift its core retail businesses to Google Cloud allowing it to “take advantage of Google Cloud’s scalable infrastructure thereby enabling its retail business to achieve better operational efficiency, modernize and scale for growth, and deliver better performance and experiences to customers,” the company said. Google Cloud is expected to play a key role in growth businesses like Reliance Retail, Jio Mart, Jio Saavn, and Jio Health. “Harnessing the reliability and performance of Google Cloud will enable these businesses to scale up as needed to respond to customer demand,” Pichai said.

Jio’s homegrown 5G network on track for launch

5G trails show speeds excess of 1 Gbps: Last year, Reliance announced that Jio engineers developed a 100 percent homegrown and comprehensive 5G solution. Jio has now revealed that it has been able to successfully demonstrate speeds well in excess of 1 Gbps. “Our made in India solution is comprehensive, complete, and globally competitive. It reaffirms my faith in the abundant talent of Indian engineers to deliver world-class products in such a cutting edge technology,” Ambani said.

Will be the first to launch 5G in India: “Recently, we received the necessary regulatory approvals as well as trial spectrum for initiating 5G field trials. As I speak to you, the entire 5G standalone network has been installed in our data centres across the nation and also at our trial sites in Mumbai. We are confident of being the first to launch a full-fledged 5G service,” Ambani said.

Connected ambulances with Jio 5G: Ambani revealed that Reliance is working on a 5G-enabled solution with the Reliance Foundation hospitals that will create a state-of-the-art connected ambulance system with real-time, high fidelity, telemedicine, and remote doctor access. “Each connected ambulance can become a virtual extension of a hospital emergency room, even while on the move,” Ambani said.

Immersive education with Jio 5G: Reliance is also working with Reliance Foundation schools to use 5G to deliver immersive and interactive AR/VR content to students in classrooms, “making the learning process a delightful, memorable, and enriching experience.”

JioMart will expand over the next few quarters

JioMart’s growth: Jio Mart registered over six and a half lakh peak orders in a single day and 80 percent of its customers are repeat shoppers, Ambani said. The e-commerce platform has added over three lakh merchants across 150 cities.

WhatsApp-JioMart collaboration encouraging: Reliance announced that it has launched an initial set of integrations between WhatsApp and JioMart on a trial basis and the response from WhatsApp and JioMart customers was encouraging. The full “new commerce” solution linking merchants and consumers, will be launched over the next few quarters, Ambani said.

Jio continues to dominate the telecom sector

Subscriber numbers: Jio saw a net addition of about 38 million subscribers over the last year and now has over 425 million subscribers, making it the first operator outside China to cross 400 million subscribers in a single country.

Monthly data traffic sees 45% growth: Jio currently handles monthly traffic of over 630 crore gigabytes a month, a 45 percent growth in data consumption in the last year alone.

Investments in spectrum auctions: In recent spectrum auctions, Jio invested Rs. 57,123 crores to acquire a significant additional spectrum, making it the largest operator of 4G spectrum in India. The company stated that it has operationalised nearly 100 percent of this additional spectrum.

Other important announcements

JioFibre becomes the largest broadband operator in India: Despite on-the-ground physical work coming to a standstill because of the pandemic, Jio’s optic-fibre broadband offering acquired more than 2 million premises over the past year. With a cumulative base of 3 million active homes and business users, Jio Fibre is now the largest and fastest-growing fixed broadband operator in India.

Jio-Azure data centres will continue to expand: Reliance has operationalised 10-megawatt capacity Jio-Azure cloud data centres in two cities, Jamnagar and Nagpur. It is currently onboarding the initial group of pilot customers and plans to expand its data centre capacity and offerings to a growing number of SMEs and startups over the coming quarters.

Vaccinations appointments through the Jio Health app: Stating that mass vaccination is India’s topmost and urgent priority, Mukesh Ambani said that Reliance is making the entire vaccination process easy and accessible through the JioHealth app. “With a click of a button, you can book a slot or download the certificate,” Ambani said. Jio is likely enabling this with the recently opened up CoWIN application programming interfaces (APIs) that allows private developers to build apps for vaccine bookings.

Research in cutting-edge technology: Reliance is developing deep expertise and 100% owned intellectual property in multiple emerging technologies like 5G, AI, machine learning, blockchain, and mixed reality, Ambani said.

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