Hoardings of JioPhone seen at Altamount Road, Mumbai. (Photographer: Anirudh Saligrama/BloombergQuint)

Reliance Jio Says India’s Telecom Tariffs Can’t Be Raised

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. on Friday said telecom tariffs in the country cannot be raised as there are still a large number of people who still use feature phones and companies need to innovate around data to perform.

“There are still around 400 million Indians who use feature phones and hence tariff can’t be raised to reach out to them,” Reliance Jio President Mathew Oommen said at the India Mobile Congress. “As a service provider, we need to know are we going to make GB (gigabyte) cost a little bit lower and make money or little bit higher and make money—that is not the mechanism. We have to innovate or we will get displaced.”

He cited the example of U.S. and Chinese internet giants who have grown rich on the basis of data. “ We live in gigabyte economy and not product economy. We as service providers are the enablers for any digital transformation,” Oommen said. “That digital transformation is enabled by ultra broadband. We need to be invested in data science, artificial and machine learning—that is going to enable us transform quickly.”

Talking about 5G deployment, he said the ecosystem will be ready by 2019-20 but affordable devices for mass adoption of the service will start coming in India only by 2021. “We in India need to take 5G to every part of India. For that, 2021 is when we will have devices that will be affordable.”

5G ecosystem will be available sometime in 2019-2020. 5G as a technology impact is not just in telecom but it is across, reshaping every single industry
Reliance Jio President Mathew Oommen.

He said that mobile devices on 5G technology aren't available yet and are expected to come in 2019. He said that it's also difficult to predict what the cost structure for 5G data services will be. “Right now we have to leverage the assets we have today and grow in capacity and experience till such time.”

Jio has been allocated spectrum in 28 gigahertz band to run 5G trials. The company showcased demonstration of driverless cars using 5G technology from Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson.

Ericsson Head of South East Asia, Oceania and India, Nunzio Mirtillo, said cost of data will be far cheaper in 5G technology compared to 4G. “We have done a study in India. 5G will enable a $27 billion business opportunity in India by 2026 and big part of this market will be captured by operators like Jio,”