India’s telecom leader Reliance said on Monday it is working with Alphabet Inc’s Google to launch a budget 5G phone as it laid out a $25 billion plan for introducing the next-generation wireless services within two months.
Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani said Jio’s 5G network will be the world’s largest, launching in main cities including New Delhi and Mumbai before being expanded across India by December next year.
“Jio has prepared an ambitious 5G roll-out plan,” the billionaire tycoon said, adding that the phone being developed with Google would be “ultra-affordable”.
5G data speeds in India are expected to be about 10 times faster than those of 4G, with the network seen as vital for emerging technologies like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.
Reliance’s 5G plans throw down the gauntlet to rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea in the world’s second biggest mobile market.
Jio, India’s biggest mobile carrier with more than 420 million customers, snapped up airwaves worth $11 billion in a $19 billion 5G spectrum auction earlier this month.
The aggressive 5G strategy builds on Jio’s playbook of disrupting India’s telecoms market having sparked a price war in 2016 when it launched cheap 4G data plans and free voice services, and later a 4G smartphone costing just $81, again in partnership with Google.
Reliance said it would partner with Qualcomm Inc to provide cloud-based 5G network solutions for businesses, and with Meta Platform Inc for its JioMart shopping integration on WhatsApp. It also announced a foray into private 5G networks.