Reliance Jio Details 5G Plans at Qualcomm Event, Promises Testing at Jio Scale

Telecommunications

Reliance Jio has detailed its 5G plans which will be supported by Qualcomm, the company’s president revealed while speaking at the Qualcomm 5G Summit. Jio, which started its public rollout in 2016 as the first 4G-only network in India, offering voice and data over the same LTE connection, has now moved into 5G, and it’s expected to launch a value-for-money 5G smartphone that could help bring about Mukesh Ambani’s goal of a 2G-mukt-Bharat (2G free India). The telco, which catapulted itself into being one of India’s top telecom companies offering liberal free trials and extremely low rates, recently became the first provider to cross 40 crore subscribers. In the last few months, it has also drawn huge amounts of funding from the likes of Facebook and Google, and when 5G launches, it could well see a fresh round of growth.

Speaking at the keynote of Qualcomm’s 5G Summit, Reliance Jio Infocomm President Matthew Oomen said that Jio has developed a fully indigenous 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) product. Qualcomm also said that Snapdragon will support OpenRAN 5G, along with Jio and various other telcos.

“Our long-standing collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies will accelerate the development of a full suite of 5G products and solutions, as Jio continues to support and drive open technologies in RAN,” said Oommen. “From Silicon to software all the functions of a Software-defined RAN will get tested at Jio Scale. These standards-based open RAN technologies along with the new Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms will help to bridge the gigabit digital gap to deliver the Inclusive Digital Platform that is so much a necessity today for lives and livelihood in India and beyond.”

“Qualcomm Technologies aims to deliver cutting-edge technology for virtualized, flexible and interoperable 5G infrastructure across the globe. We recently achieved over a 1 Gbps milestone on the Reliance Jio 5G NR product, leveraging our Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms, and we look forward to expanding our efforts with Reliance Jio to enable flexible and scalable 5G RAN deployments,” said Durga Malladi, Senior Vice President and General Manager, 4G/5G, Qualcomm Technologies.

The company further noted that the portfolio of Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms is designed to provide a foundation for flexible, virtualized, scalable, and interoperable cellular network infrastructure. The platforms offer scalable support for a wide range of infrastructure categories ranging from macro base stations with massive MIMO to small cells, and feature support for all key frequency bands on sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum.

At the RIL AGM which took place in July this year, the company made a number of announcements, including a partnership with Google to develop and Android-based operating system affordable 4G and 5G smartphones, a mixed reality headset with holographic video calling, and much more. The result of this partnership is rumoured to be a smartphone priced at under Rs. 5,000, or $68.

As of now, we don’t know when the 5G smartphone will launch, but predictions from analysts suggest we can expect it in December. It’s worth noting that Google already had the Android One programme, which was meant to promote phones with close to stock Android designed to run on entry level devices.

Experts had pointed out that the Reliance-Google deal could be a huge challenge for Chinese handset makers in the country. The $4.5 billion (Rs. 33,737 crores in India) deal under which Alphabet’s Google will collaborate with India’s Reliance Industries poses a major challenge to Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi and BBK Electronics, owner of the Realme, Oppo, and Vivo brands, which currently dominate a $2 billion (roughly Rs. 14,955 crores) market for sub-$100 (roughly Rs. 7,400) smartphones in India.

At the AGM 2020 on 15 July, Mukesh Ambani said: “Today, friends, I have great pride in announcing that Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. This will enable us to launch a world-class 5G service in India using 100 percent home-grown technologies and solutions. This Made-in-India 5G solution will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available.“

However, at the moment, 5G networks have not been launched in the country, as the government still has to allot spectrum for 5G trials, which would be necessary ahead of any rollout. A recent report by Zee Business, quoting sources within the Home Ministry, suggested that trials may not take place this year after all, which could be a stumbling block for Reliance Jio’s plans.


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