Reliance Jio’s 5G push to be India’s answer to Huawei

Ashwin

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Talk of business cycles. There are companies today writing off a full quarter and there are companies reporting record profits.

Indian telco Reliance Jio reported 3X growth in its profits last week. While other telcos will likely report good numbers too, Jio is an anomaly. In more ways than one.

For its $46 billion 4G network, it chiefly relied on one vendor—Samsung. For 5G, it’s going all out for open source. What looked like a scrappy DIY project a few years ago has now emerged as a full-blown strategy for not just building a 5G network on its own terms—free from vendor lock-ins—but also for selling to the rest of the world.

This puts in context what Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani told the US President Trump in a CEO roundtable in February—“We’re the only network in the world which doesn’t have a single Chinese component.”

Locking out large network gear vendors is a new imperative as well as a movement. And one of the telecom executives leading it globally is Tariq Amen, CTO of Japan’s newest mobile operator Rakuten. Amen, the Jordanian expat who headed Jio’s networks team until 2018, had set the ball rolling. Under him, Jio acquired US software company Radisys and invested in a few other startups. It hired over 150 IIT graduates, built networking equipment, and ran prototypes in Jio’s campus.

Coincidently, the same year Jio began its equipment push, Trai, India’s telecom regulator, came up with a set of recommendations on ‘promoting local telecom manufacturing’.

Trai redefined Make in India, adding a new category—design in India, manufacture abroad. This would mean that Jio’s plans would still qualify for incentives under the Make in India scheme.

In Jio’s estimate, this focused drift of strategy would reduce its capex by half, and its network update turnaround by 75%. Two competitive groups (and power centres) are finally converging within Jio to reach one goal by December.

Pratap has a cracker of a story today, with small details woven through large implications. Read it here: https://the-ken.com/story/reliance-jios-5g-push-to-be-indias-answer-to-huawei/ (12-minute story)

@randomradio @_Anonymous_ @Sulla84 @Milspec @hellbent @Gautam
 

Ashwin

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Relevant parts:

Reliance Jio’s 5G push to be India’s answer to Huawei

while it partnered with Samsung to build its $46 billion pan-India 4G network, its 5G project is going to be a DIY effort as its 10-year lock-in period with the Korean telecom major is set to run out in a few years.

Jio isn’t alone in its efforts to make its own 5G equipment. There has been a global movement driven by major operators like Vodafone and AT&T to set specifications and standards in line with operators’ requirements. Based on principles of openness and interoperability, the movement, called O-RAN, seeks to end the hegemony that’s long existed in the telecom equipment space

Traditionally, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which is led by large vendors like Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, Huawei, ZTE, and Samsung has set standards, with operators forced to follow.

“Vendors make a specification and then make a product out of that specification. Operators’ requirements are not fully taken into account. Vendors develop specific protocols for hardware to talk to software, and that costs a bomb,” said a senior executive working closely with a leading Indian operator.

5G networks are especially given to this. Software and hardware are now two separate commodities, and both can be sourced separately. Crucially, while the intellectual property resides in software, hardware has been commoditised and could be bought off the shelf. As a result, even German businesses like automaker BMW and air carrier Deutsche Lufthansa are building private 5G networks, well ahead of Germany’s telcos.

Jio is also hitching its cart to these open standards. The use of open interface networks, that too, developed in house, could bring down Jio’s capital expenditure by nearly half, said multiple executives working closely with Reliance Jio. This is vital in a country like India, where 5G use cases will not emerge from day one and the average revenue per user remains low. These savings could also allow Jio to buy a larger chunk of spectrum.

Shortly after, in mid-2018, Jio acquired US-based telecom software company Radisys. This boosted Jio’s capacity to build software components, which constitutes a significant part of the 5G network. With Radisys in its arsenal, Jio could now stitch together disaggregated and open interface equipment. Some of this could be developed entirely in-house, with the rest sourced from vendors.

“We hired 150 graduates from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT). We built networking equipment and ran prototypes in Jio’s campus,” said one of the top Jio executives at the time, who is no longer with the company.
 

_Anonymous_

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Dec 4, 2017
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Talk of business cycles. There are companies today writing off a full quarter and there are companies reporting record profits.

Indian telco Reliance Jio reported 3X growth in its profits last week. While other telcos will likely report good numbers too, Jio is an anomaly. In more ways than one.

For its $46 billion 4G network, it chiefly relied on one vendor—Samsung. For 5G, it’s going all out for open source. What looked like a scrappy DIY project a few years ago has now emerged as a full-blown strategy for not just building a 5G network on its own terms—free from vendor lock-ins—but also for selling to the rest of the world.

This puts in context what Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani told the US President Trump in a CEO roundtable in February—“We’re the only network in the world which doesn’t have a single Chinese component.”

Locking out large network gear vendors is a new imperative as well as a movement. And one of the telecom executives leading it globally is Tariq Amen, CTO of Japan’s newest mobile operator Rakuten. Amen, the Jordanian expat who headed Jio’s networks team until 2018, had set the ball rolling. Under him, Jio acquired US software company Radisys and invested in a few other startups. It hired over 150 IIT graduates, built networking equipment, and ran prototypes in Jio’s campus.

Coincidently, the same year Jio began its equipment push, Trai, India’s telecom regulator, came up with a set of recommendations on ‘promoting local telecom manufacturing’.

Trai redefined Make in India, adding a new category—design in India, manufacture abroad. This would mean that Jio’s plans would still qualify for incentives under the Make in India scheme.

In Jio’s estimate, this focused drift of strategy would reduce its capex by half, and its network update turnaround by 75%. Two competitive groups (and power centres) are finally converging within Jio to reach one goal by December.

Pratap has a cracker of a story today, with small details woven through large implications. Read it here: https://the-ken.com/story/reliance-jios-5g-push-to-be-indias-answer-to-huawei/ (12-minute story)

@randomradio @_Anonymous_ @Sulla84 @Milspec @hellbent @Gautam
Is the the full story? The link you've attached is behind a paywall.
 
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Ghobbitses

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Anyone else says it, we can be suspicious. But Reliance...this explains why FB, Google etc. are suddenly keen on investing in Reliance.

Reliance Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. It will be ready for trials as soon as the 5G spectrum is available and can be ready for field deployment next year.




 

jetray

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Even though I am not a big fan of ambani & co who are mostly known for commission business , I like the idea of getting into 5G design & manufacture. Hope this spawns a ecosystem of electronic design & manufacturing similar to korea or taiwan.
Anyone else says it, we can be suspicious. But Reliance...this explains why FB, Google etc. are suddenly keen on investing in Reliance.

Reliance Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. It will be ready for trials as soon as the 5G spectrum is available and can be ready for field deployment next year.




Its not technology they are after but subscriber base that reliance brings in. I am not a big fan of letting these cmpnies run riot, we should create our own googles/facebook like china has done. whether it is aramco or google buying a stake in reliance is purely bcos of the market size. Once they enter the market they will virtually kill other cmpnies and startups will have no chance of competing with them.

For example in US , comcast is alleged to be throttling netflix , youtube,skype .... etc services. Same thing will happen in India as well.
 

Ghobbitses

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Even though I am not a big fan of ambani & co who are mostly known for commission business , I like the idea of getting into 5G design & manufacture. Hope this spawns a ecosystem of electronic design & manufacturing similar to korea or taiwan.

Its not technology they are after but subscriber base that reliance brings in. I am not a big fan of letting these cmpnies run riot, we should create our own googles/facebook like china has done. whether it is aramco or google buying a stake in reliance is purely bcos of the market size. Once they enter the market they will virtually kill other cmpnies and startups will have no chance of competing with them.

For example in US , comcast is alleged to be throttling netflix , youtube,skype .... etc services. Same thing will happen in India as well.
Yes - the only way to prevent foreign companies from killing Indian ones is by having really strong Indian firms running the show. If the foreign cos are investors with the Indians leading the show then it's a pretty good thing.
 

Ghobbitses

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All I can see is - Where is my Sharapova:D
How dare you are giving me Desi Mandiras.
Actually what he said is true. We should reject the FB/ Google type investment and proceed with purely indigenious solutions before America/ Cambridge Analytica type situation emerges. Now when I think of it, Reliance must be brought to heel.
 

Ghobbitses

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I'm beginning to see the implications- Jio will not have any competition. Should I fell happy that no chinese equipment will be there or sad that anti-national like Jio will be our only choice....unable to make up my mind!
 

AbRaj

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Actually what he said is true. We should reject the FB/ Google type investment and proceed with purely indigenious solutions before America/ Cambridge Analytica type situation emerges. Now when I think of it, Reliance must be brought to heel.
No he is satisfied with the status quo of importing everything from foreign vendor(of some preferred country) even if a desi option exist. IA Brats are expert in this practice. Just look at their procurement history.

For building something you don’t have the capability to build, you need support of someone who has experience in doing that and is willing to help you.
Its opposite to PSUs philosophy of retaining selfdepependence at the cost of doing nothing. Pvt companies don’t have that luxury. That’s why army men are not considerd that bright minded in business world.

Chinease tech industry started with similar way and so should Indian.
 
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Ashwin

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The Unbridled Ambition of Reliance Jio


The AGM started with a bang — A massive investment from Google as part of its India Digitization Fund. The search giant was buying into the Jio dream and pundits lauded Mukesh Ambani for delivering another masterstroke.

But one thing stood out. Google got in on the act at a significant discount compared to other partners. They paid ~₹33,700 crores for a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms whilst Silver Lake, another early investor had to cough up ₹10,200 crores for a 2% stake.

I am not sure if you are doing the math here, but if Silver Lake was buying 7.7% like Google, they would have had to pay ~₹37,800 crores — roughly 12% more than the search giant’s acquisition price — A hefty premium!!!


Now you could suggest that Reliance Jio fleeced Silver Lake. But that would be inaccurate since this disparity alludes to something very different — the nature of their strategic partnership.

It’s quite simple really. Google isn’t just bringing the cash. It’s bringing a whole lot more to the table.

As Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted —

Google and Jio Platforms have entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store. Together we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones.
And that’s the bottom line — This is an attempt to drive smartphone penetration in the country. It’s an attempt to build a phone that could potentially unlock new opportunities and boost data consumption. You can’t just stick a regular Android smartphone and expect rural consumers to take a liking to it. They have different aspirations. They have different needs.

For instance, rural consumers are more likely to use UC Web browser because it employs complex compression techniques and loads web content faster whilst using less data. They use websites like SongsPK to download music for free since streaming doesn’t work well on 2G connections. They still use feature phones because even the most affordable smartphones in this country are too expensive.

So if Mukesh Ambani really wants to create a “2G Mukt Bharat”, he has to reinvent the smartphone, including the operating system that powers it. And Google is quintessential to this cause.

Also, this strategic partnership isn’t just limited to Google. Facebook was offered a similar discount for bringing WhatsApp into the equation and pairing it with JioMart.

For the uninitiated, JioMart is an ambitious project — the likes of which you’ve probably never seen before. With JioMart, Reliance wants to connect thousands of Kirana stores to the Internet. They want them to accept orders online, fulfill them, and cater to a much larger audience. Now obviously you could just build an app and force consumers and store owners to transact on this new platform. But that would be a sub-optimal solution. Instead, if you introduce something more familiar, you could increase adoption and engagement rates almost instantaneously.

Familiarity breeds attraction. People take an instant liking to something they already know. It’s called the mere-exposure effect — a psychological phenomenon where people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. So if Jio was looking to introduce new products and wade into uncharted territories, it would be better off piggybacking on something more familiar. Something like…

WhatsApp!!!

After all, there aren’t a lot of applications that are more ubiquitous and intuitive than WhatsApp, right? So if people could buy groceries off their local Kirana stores using the app, that would be a game-changer.

As an article in The Drum notes —

For the longest time, Indian e-commerce has largely been dominated by Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart, which controls just over 62% of the market split almost evenly. Now, the Facebook-Jio partnership introduces a formidable third force into the mix. In the long run, this alliance will counter the growth of Amazon and Flipkart, but it could completely disrupt the way e-commerce is run in the world’s largest democracy.

Enabling rural Indian commerce means both Jio and Facebook will have unparalleled insights into purchasing habits, needs and challenges of an entirely new consumer class the world of e-commerce has known least about until now.
There was also another big promise — Jio 5G.

Unlike previous network technologies, 5G won’t just connect your smartphone to the internet. It aims to connect everything to the internet — refrigerators, microwave ovens, washing machines, your TV. Everything!!!

It’s meant to deliver more data with higher reliability and offer users a more uniform experience across devices.

Now experts we spoke to confided that this kind of interconnectedness is unlikely to transpire in the short term — at least in India. But they were still hopeful of leveraging 5G to pursue higher mobile internet speeds. So when Mukesh Ambani stated that 5G would be ready for field deployment next year there was considerable fanfare surrounding this announcement.

However, there is still one problem — spectrum allocation.

Think of spectrum allocation as the government’s way of auctioning radio frequencies (5G airwaves for example). Who gets what is incumbent on who’s willing to pay the most. But the government will set a reserve price — a minimum amount below which you simply can’t bid.

If the government thinks the likes of Reliance and Airtel are unlikely to make a lot of money out of 5G, they’ll set this bar pretty low. However, if they think the telcos are likely to make a killing, they’ll ensure the reserve price stays up.

And the telecom entities have been fighting tooth and nail to revise the reserve price downwards. Their contention is rather simple — “We have too much debt. People pay too little money for our services. You have to stop fleecing us.”

And the government — well, they aren’t budging either. Their position is very clear — India’s market opportunity is massive and it’d be a travesty to sell the spectrum for a pittance. So they want to pursue a high reserve price.

But here’s the kicker. Trials can’t begin unless they resolve this stalemate. Meaning, 5G will remain a theoretical proposition until spectrum allocation concludes. Also, even if they do resolve the stalemate, a higher reserve price will push costs across the board. 5G will probably be much more expensive than any 4G data plan you’ve seen so far. And unless you are really bothered about your 4G network, you are unlikely to make the transition. So despite the fanfare, widespread 5G adoption will probably take some time.

But wait there is something else that might cheer you up — Jio TV+

It’s another ambitious project to aggregate multiple content platforms on Jio’s Set Top Box — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar, EROS Now, YouTube, you name it. All your favourite streaming platforms in one place available with a single login. A masterstroke!!

Of course, success here will depend on pricing, pesky fibre connections, and how people take to Jio TV+. But if Reliance can make the likes of Netflix and Prime Video more accessible, it will do wonders for the content ecosystem in the country.

More paying subscribers translate to better revenues for streaming platforms. A bigger revenue pie means they can reinvest more proceeds. Reinvesting more proceeds will eventually translate to bigger budgets for production houses and maybe it will provide a much-needed boost to an industry that’s currently reeling from the after-effects of COVID-19.

This could potentially be a win-win for all parties involved. But maybe we should wait for the fine print before we get too ahead of ourselves.

Besides this, there were other announcements that also piqued our interest.

  1. There was Jio Glass — A mixed reality headset that you can use to video call, share presentations, and conduct holographic classes. Not sure if this will devolve into another novelty item like Google Glass, but the design looks pretty neat.
  2. There was also that initiative around virtual classrooms — A platform that will include video lectures, study material, personalized lessons, tests, practice sessions all weaved into one seamless experience. An affront to Byju’s perhaps?
  3. And some exclusive new details about JioHealthHub — a platform that provides end-to-end healthcare services including online video consultation with doctors, lab tests, etc. Like Practo, you know?
And as the AGM drew to a close, I walked away from my computer screen with equal parts optimism and equal parts dread.

After all, it’s hard to overstate Jio’s contribution to India’s growth story. They’ve single-handedly altered the digital landscape in this country and in all likelihood will continue to shape it for many years to come. But as Reliance begins to shape-shift and metamorphosize, they are starting to dwarf competition and subsume entire industries. They are prepping for war with incumbents on both fronts — digital and offline, and they are doing it at a pace that belies all expectations.


It reminds me of another company. What an uncanny resemblance, isn’t it?

 

AbRaj

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Mukesh Ambani’s army of expats at Jio


(Clockwise from top) Rainer Deutschmann, chief product and innovation officer; Tareq Amin, senior vice-president of technology development and automation; Nikola Sucevic, assistant VP and lead, data analytics development in area of radio coverage and capacity, machine learning, and telecom data mining; Stratos Davlos, head, platform and engineering; Janina Anjuli Schmidt, design lead; and Caroline Seifert, former chief brand and design officer.
(Clockwise from top) Rainer Deutschmann, chief product and innovation officer; Tareq Amin, senior vice-president of technology development and automation; Nikola Sucevic, assistant VP and lead, data analytics development in area of radio coverage and capacity, machine learning, and telecom data mining; Stratos Davlos, head, platform and engineering; Janina Anjuli Schmidt, design lead; and Caroline Seifert, former chief brand and design officer.Mukesh Ambani’s army of expats at Jio
12 min read . Updated: 30 Jan 2018, 08:52 AM ISTSunny Sen
Over the past six years, Reliance Industries has hired many expats to innovate and differentiate at the world's fastest-growing telco



Topics
mint-india-wire Reliance JioMukesh AmbaniReliance IndustriesexpatsReliance employeesLyfJioPhone4Gtelecom

Ask any Reliance Jio insider and you will be told Building TC-22 at the Jio headquarters in Navi Mumbai is where the action is. On the seventh floor is Mukesh Ambani’s desk— four feet wide, bare and with a telephone on it—one among 200 other workstations on the floor.
“MDA spends a couple of hours every Wednesday here," says a Jio executive. MDA is Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani, India’s richest man and the chairman of the Reliance Industries group of companies. “I personally thought that this wouldn’t work for long. But it has. There is no hierarchy and it is a totally flat organization, very different from the refinery business," says the executive.
Why the open-plan office, especially for Ambani who spent most of his career in offices where business was conducted behind closed doors? “To retain talent," says a second person, a senior Reliance Industries executive. “As MDA often says, we are a start-up. We have to behave like one."
Jio started operations just about 16 months ago. It sees itself in the digital business, not as a telco. Most of its people are in their 20s and 30s. And, its staff—with an unusual proportion of foreigners—are pushed to disrupt every aspect of a telco’s operations: the network, building security systems, devices, branding, consumer behaviour, etc.
This is the story of those expats and how they changed Jio’s fortunes and the Indian telecom business. Most of them were personally hired by Ambani and his lieutenants signing on the talent from across industries and the globe in the last seven years.
The second person cited earlier confirms that as much as 15% of the 20,000 people working at the Jio Navi Mumbai campus are expats—many of them in key roles. For the two months that FactorDaily worked on this story, Jio turned down its requests for meetings with any of its expats and attempts to contact them individually were mostly unsuccessful.
First, a quick list of the senior expats. Jio’s chief product and innovation officer is former Deutsche Telekom executive Rainer Deutschmann. Networks is headed by ex-Sprint chief technology officer Mathew Oommen, an American with Indian roots. Stratos Davlos, hired from Apple, heads platform and engineering and was instrumental in developing the Hello Jio voice assistant. Jordanian Tareq Amin leads tech development and automation. Caroline Seifert was its chief brand and design officer for a year. Janina Anjuli Schmidt worked closely with Seifert and now leads design. Chinese Shuming Li looks after all of Jio’s wifi rollouts. Marcus Brackebusch was one of the brains behind platforms and systems (Jan 2015 to May 2017). And Nikola Sucevic, a Swedish data scientist, leads data analytics development in area of radio coverage and capacity, machine learning, and telecom data mining.
This is just at the top. “There is a significant number of people at a variety of levels… from super senior most people reporting directly to MDA, to straight down," says keen Jio watcher Kunal Bajaj, a former director at Paytm and ex-India head of consultant Analysys Mason.
To be sure, this is not the first time Reliance Industries is working with expats. Even in Jamnagar, its refinery was set up by foreign experts with long years in the petroleum business. “The group has always worked with international people. With digital, it has grown further," says the second person.
The network is key to Jio’s strategy and one of the four top differentiators it has to grab customer market share; the other three being cheap devices, a large family of apps, and low tariffs—these would be ineffective sans a data-ready network.
FactorDaily interviewed nearly a dozen people within and outside Jio to get an understanding of how Ambani’s team of expats works and how it helped build the fastest growing telecom company in the world with some 146 million subscribers.
When Ambani decided to build Jio in 2011, he knew it had to be different from the very beginning if it was to disrupt incumbents. This meant going to the core of a telecom business operation: its network. For the first time, any telecom operator in India had decided to build a 4G network, primarily focussed on data. Even calls on Jio’s network would run on data.
Network fury
In a country just embracing 3G technology, Jio’s punt on 4G was amusing to many. Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular among others were still rolling out the 3G network and waiting for people to taste internet on 2 or 2.5G networks. To be sure, globally, companies such as Vodafone, China Telecom, and Verizon had started building 4G networks. But, nowhere in the world had a telecom company built an LTE-only network from scratch.
Jio did.
“Jio came in late, but it had an advantage of setting up a network that was futuristic. The Jio network is 5G ready," says telecom veteran T.V. Ramachandran. “Jio went on with deployment of 4G equipment, others thought Ambani was doing a mistake."
India didn’t have much talent to build this network. Ramachandran explains that apart from makers of telecom equipment like Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei, no one was spending on building R&D around networks. “When you don’t have people in India doing that, the best thing is to get people from abroad to set it up," he says, adding that BT (the erstwhile British Telecom)—and now Jio—is the rare telco that does network R&D.
Ambani handpicked Oommen, who was earlier the chief technology officer of Sprint, responsible for network and technology development, systems architecture, and device development.
Oommen had worked with Reliance Infocomm—the telecom services business that Ambani had started in 2003 but had to part with in a family business split with brother Anil—and it wasn’t difficult for Jio to get him back to India. “Oommen is one of the top five guys in the world in network technologies," says a person, who works closely with him.
Oommen’s network team is from across the world. Jio has the largest fibre backhaul network; its radio network is wider than anyone else. Oommen helped design a network where everything rides on data, even voice. Hence, voice consumers only use 10-15% of the bandwidth, allowing Jio to utilize more of its network for data.
A senior executive of an incumbent operator says, “While we are deploying LTE network, 50-60% of our network utilisation is still for voice. Jio’s is much less."
The network is key to Jio’s strategy and one of the four top differentiators it has to grab customer market share; the other three being cheap devices, a large family of apps, and low tariffs—these would be ineffective sans a data-ready network.
Oommen knew that. On the IP-based Jio network, the cost of servicing data and calls is as low as eight paise for a minute. For others, it is about 30 paise, but this includes the contentious 14 paise interconnection usage charge.
He continues to travel for a couple of weeks every couple of months. “He has a team in the US to do a lot of international tie-ups… who work on network innovation. His team here has a lot of expats – mostly people of Indian origin who wanted to come back," says the person who works with Oommen.
Once the network was in place, Ambani wanted to tackle the next big hurdle: devices. Even there, he found out that Jio was in a virgin territory.
Affordable=Mass Market
Early in 2003, months before the Reliance Infocomm launch, Ambani had asked colleagues at a meeting: “What is the cheapest cost of communication?"
“A postcard!" he answered his own question. “That costs 40 paise." The calling rate in an offer called Monsoon Hungama launched July 2003 was set at 40 paise a minute.
In 2011, Ambani was following the same affordability playbook: 4G smartphones had to be affordable. He and a few others visited China and met with several phone makers. “Half of the world’s devices are made in China," says the second person quoted earlier.
Beginning 2012, Jio started sending a lot of people from Mumbai to China to put together the devices strategy and roll it out. The only 4G devices were from Apple and Samsung and they were very expensive and wasn’t fitting into Jio’s plan. “We were always thinking of hundreds of millions of customers and in that context LYF was created," says the second source. LYF was the initial crop of custom-readied phones for Jio, which then made way for the JioPhone.
The TC-22 tower was again the hub of Jio’s work on devices. A team of designers was put together from different countries: China, Germany, England, Israel and the US. The team spent an inordinate amount of time in China. Adding an extra band for 4G services to existing phones would make them costlier by Rs2,500-3,000. So, the team started designing a phone from scratch with partners in Europe and China. It took them a year to make it but they could price the LYF phone at Rs4,000.
With LYF, Jio had brought down the price of 4G phones to a fourth of prevailing prices. With JioPhone, it further reduced the price to the level of feature phones.
Within months of launch in the first quarter of 2016, LYF captured 7% market share in smartphones in India, according to data from Counterpoint Research. By the third quarter, the phone was out of stock. “With the commercial launch of Reliance Jio service with attractive introductory offer, the LYF branded smartphones saw a sharp demand with reports of stock-outs at some locations," Jaipal Singh, senior market analyst, client devices, IDC, wrote in a report.
Soon, the market followed Jio and LYF and suddenly 4G smartphones were much cheaper. Between September 2016 and September 2017, the 4G smartphone base went up from 86 million to 178 million. Jio gained the most with its first mover advantage—from 16 million to 139 million—during the period.
But it wasn’t easy for the expat designers. “LTE is a very dynamic network. The networks are constantly optimising itself, and there are software-driven networks. There is no human intervention. That interaction with devices is constantly changing," says a third Jio executive, who is one of the expats.
A dominant share of new 4G additions was good but Jio realised that to attract a large number of users of feature phones, which typically are voice and SMS only, the Rs4,000 tag for new phones was too high. So, the design team, full of expats, worked on what would be called JioPhone—a smart feature phone. It was not easy. “We are not a devices company, we don’t make phones. But, the team figured the lowest we can go to give a smartphone experience," says the second executive mentioned above.
With LYF, Jio had brought down the price of 4G phones to a fourth of prevailing prices. With JioPhone, it further reduced the price to the level of feature phones.
Copycats followed quickly. Soon, every operator partnered with the likes of Micromax, Karbonn, Intex and Lava to make cheap smartphones and bundle them with services—India’s data world was being disrupted.
Disrupting the market
Finding people has become a little bit easier since the September 2016 launch of Jio. One big advantage that really excited a lot of people was the vision of Jio, which made people to come and work here. “MDA and (Manoj) Modi—they were meeting people personally. They have been the HR managers," says the second person.
During one such meeting, Jio hired someone from Apple to build the entire customer service and experience. FactorDaily is not certain about this person but it most likely to be Stratos Davlos, the head of platform and engineering.
“The user experience is from someone who has come from Apple. He built his team here and got more people from Apple," says the second executive, without saying whether it was Davlos.
Another Jio executive working closely with the team confirmed it is a 20-25 member team. MyJio was the first app that it started to build, which allows users to recharge their phones, track usage, get coupons, and gift vouchers to friends and family. MyJio, the company claims, is the fastest app to get 100 million downloads. The team didn’t stop there—it wanted to extend the same user experience to its cinema and live television apps.
“Unlike other telcos, integration of content and the network started in Jio from the very beginning… which is critical to deliver a seamless customer experience," says Mritunjay Kapur, a partner at KPMG India specialising in telecom, among other industries.
Once Jio had its pricing in place, it went after innovative marketing. It knew a single version of a campaign doesn’t fit all of India and so bought technology and language translation licences from SDL, a London-based company. “It was the first time any telecom operator was buying licences for the entire stack," says Richard Delanty, who worked closely with Jio and was the senior vice president—sales and operations at SDL.
Soon, SDL was flying people to Mumbai for large integrations. “Jio was running multilingual campaigns, but the entire workflow was automated, which gave Jio the ability to do multi-region rollouts at speed and scale," says Delanty. Once a campaign was designed in English, at the press of a button it would go to the translators and would come back after translation. Since the workflow was automated, there were no follow-ups and the campaigns would go to the respective regions.

Expand

Tech: the holy grail
“The size, scale and speed of the network rollout was unprecedented… The availability of talent in the country wasn’t enough for something like this," says Kapur of KPMG.
For Reliance, it was important to collect a lot of network data, user insights and monitor the surges of usage. To begin with, Jio decided to get some people from the US, who had worked on analysing tons of data. In July 2015, Jio hired Nikola Sucevic, a ex-Ericsson executive with two decades of experience in telecom and data science. Others—Indians and foreigners— were hired from companies such as Microsoft and boutique data science companies. The data team has some 30 people.
On the network security side, the team is headed by a person from the UK, aided by four other expats. The information security function was headed by hacker Karsten Nohl, famous for exposing flaws in telecom networks potentially affecting millions of users all over the world, for three years until March 2017.
Young and expat hires have changed Jio and Reliance Industries. About half of the people on the Jio Navi Mumbai premises come to work casually attired, as FactorDaily noticed on a visit to the Jio office late last year. Ambani, who continues to dress in his usual white shirt and black trousers, is often seen huddled with employees in jeans and t-shirts. “If you look at them you can’t make out that they are doing such serious work," says the second person, chuckling.
The casual attire was a big change within Reliance, so were Saturday holidays. “Now, even one of the canteens have started serving non-vegetarian food," says the second person. Jio employees go out in the evening to the gym or to play tennis and come back to work in shorts.
Still, there is a problem: most of the expats don’t move with their family, as want to go back after sometime, especially if they are not senior-level executives.
“The ecosystem for expats isn’t there. The [Reliance] group has a very good school, but then not everyone can be admitted. For expats to come and stay here, their lifestyle needs to be developed," says a senior executive at Reliance. “If you want a 25-year-old German to come and stay here, you either need to pay him a lot, otherwise he will struggle here."
That’s a problem Ambani and Jio will have to deal with. Not everything comes easy when you are building a digital-first telecom services company in India—even if you have spent Rs2 trillion building it. Factordaily
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jetray

Well-Known member
Mar 15, 2018
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India
No he is satisfied with the status quo.

For building something , you don’t have the capability to build, you need support of someone who has experience in doing that and is willing to help you.
Its opposite to PSUs philosophy of retaining selfdepependence at the cost of doing nothing. Pvt companies don’t have that luxury. That’s why army men are not considerd that bright minded in business world.

Chinease tech industry started with similar way and so should Indian.
we have the ability and if we focus well it can be converted to capability. If we are talking about chip designing & manufacturing yes we need collaboration & tech transfer. But for software side of things I dont think there is any thing that is stopping us from building new stuff. Indian market over the period of time has grown well and can certainly generate more revenue to justify spending on such efforts. google/facebook are not doing us any charity , they know very well that small investment now they make will fetch them handsome returns at the same time preventing other companies emerging as well.

I dont know what makes ppl think google / facebook are special they all started as small startups and grew over period of time. We also need to encourage more local startups instead of constantly harping that we dont have capability without even attempting. Its all got to do with our attitude instead of focusing on overall big picture we end up being satisfied with easiest and low hanging fruits. Infosys / wipro have been there for enuf period of time they should have been challenging microsoft/IBM instead of renting ppl out for money.
 

jetray

Well-Known member
Mar 15, 2018
782
549
India
And that’s the bottom line — This is an attempt to drive smartphone penetration in the country. It’s an attempt to build a phone that could potentially unlock new opportunities and boost data consumption. You can’t just stick a regular Android smartphone and expect rural consumers to take a liking to it. They have different aspirations. They have different needs.
reliance is the gatekeeper they can keep out any apps / services or run their own. That's the reason why these companies are trying to invest now and get some foot hold. There is also a disadvantage if one big company ends up dictating the market it will crush local start ups. In US there is some thing called network neutrality we also need such laws to ensure that we dont end up suffering from monopoly.

Reliance on the other hand should spin of its divisions and make them independent. They should have stake , voting rights and board members but not day to day control of the company. The company should chart its course based on what it deems beneficial instead of hitching itself to the reliance monolith.
 
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