Reliance takes on fixed broadband and home entertainment markets with new services, JioPhone gets a reboot

7th Jul 2018
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Reliance Industries unveiled its upcoming plans for Jio at the company's 41st AGM held in Mumbai on Thursday. It looks ambitious and how. 

After disrupting Indian telecom, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio is now looking to make inroads into the fixed broadband and home entertainment market.

At the 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Reliance Industries on Thursday, Ambani made a slew of announcements that could potentially alter the internet, connectivity and entertainment landscape of India — all over again.

First there was Jio, the telecom service, which in 22 months has notched up 215 million subscribers, becoming the fastest-growing network in the world. Now, Reliance has rolled out Jio GigaFiber — a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service for home users, merchants, SMEs as well as large enterprises — across 1,100 cities. RIL said it is beta-testing the service in “tens of thousands of homes” already.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries, at the 41st AGM

Jio GigaFiber is said to be the most advanced fibre optic network in India, and will be offering internet speeds of upto 1 Gbps. It promises to be a one-stop connectivity product built to support landlines, broadband connections, IPTVs, smart TVs, gaming sets, and more. Reliance is inviting registrations for the Jio GigaFiber service on MyJio app and Jio.com August 15 onward.

Ambani said at the AGM,

“While India has pole-vaulted into global leadership in the mobile broadband space, the country lags behind significantly in fixed-line broadband. Poor fixed-line infrastructure has been a key reason for this. We want to take India to be among the top five in fixed-line broadband connectivity.”

Jio wants to redefine Indian homes

RIL also rolled out GigaTV set-top boxes that seek to redefine home entertainment in India. GigaTV owners can not only enjoy a smart TV experience on their regular television sets (with access to over 600 channels and several thousand movies and millions of songs), but also have the ability to make phone calls to other TVs, and smartphones over the Jio GigaFiber network.

“You can now enjoy all your entertainment content at ultra high definition. This is like having a theatre in your home,” Akash Ambani, Director of Reliance Jio, stated.

Further — and this could be the most ambitious bit — Reliance is stepping into the smart home and home automation space: a fast-growing consumer segment currently dominated by global giants Amazon and Google.

RIL showcased the Jio Smart Home Accessories Suite that includes doorbells, home security cameras, smart plugs, WiFi extenders, and TV cameras (for multi-party video conferencing). The company revealed that more smart home accessories, including smoke sensors, gas and water leak sensors, sirens, video doorbells, panic buttons, etc. are on their way.

All smart home devices can be controlled via the MyJio app on users’ smartphones. Ambani stated, “Jio's motto is simple: We are determined to connect everyone and everything, everywhere – always at the highest quality and the most affordable price.” 

The JioPhone gets a reboot

The JioPhone which led to a resurgence in the domestic feature phone market last year, has received an upgrade.

Akash Ambani, Isha Ambani and Kiran Thomas unveiling the JioPhone 2 at the AGM

On Thursday, RIL unveiled the JioPhone 2 that resembles old BlackBerry and Nokia handsets, has a larger form factor, comes with a QWERTY keypad, and will soon support “the three most popular apps” - Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube.

That is a significant refresh from the first version of the JioPhone, which RIL claims, has 25 million users and is the largest-selling feature phone in India. Ambani announced that he wants to take the user base up to 100 million as fast as possible.

The JioPhone 2 will sell at an “introductory price” of Rs 2,999, which is cheaper than most entry-level smartphones in the market right now. RIL has made the deal sweeter for existing JioPhone users by allowing them to exchange their old handsets for a new one for just Rs 501. JioPhone 2 goes on sale on August 15 on Jio.com and offline Jio stores.

Ambani said, “We have reduced the effective entry cost of the JioPhone from Rs 1,500 to as low as Rs 501. Our purpose is to accelerate the digital revolution in India with the extreme affordability of a JioPhone, so that each and every Indian can access the internet and enjoy the ‘Digital Life’.”

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