Reliance Jio is working with Google to develop "ultra-affordable" 5G smartphones for India, chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said in his keynote address at the company's 45th annual general meeting (AGM) on August 29.
This development comes as the conglomerate unveiled an ambitious 5G rollout strategy, which the company says will have the fastest network in the world.
Reliance had earlier collaborated with Google to debut the JioPhone Next Android smartphone last year. The smartphone was powered by Pragati OS, an "extremely optimised version" of the Android operating system, jointly developed by Google and Jio, especially designed for the Indian market.
"Jio looks to attract millions of mass market 4G subscribers from rivals to its 5G network and a lower-cost sub-Rs 10,000 5G smartphone would be the key to attract them" said Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint.
He added this 5G smartphone will add to the portfolio of locally optimised JioPhone Next 4G that will continue to attract millions of featurephone users to its 4G network.
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In July 2021, Google and Jio Platforms, the telecom arm of the conglomerate, entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone. Google also invested $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms, taking a 7.73 percent stake in the firm.
"We will also leverage the advanced capabilities of Google Cloud to offer Jio's Private 5G stack and other 5G-enabled solutions to both domestic and global users at scale," Ambani said at the AGM.
The US tech giant's cloud arm Google Cloud signed a comprehensive, long-term strategic partnership to power 5G tech in the enterprise and consumer segments in India in 2021.
At the time, both companies said they would collaborate to bring a portfolio of 5G edge computing solutions across several verticals including gaming, healthcare, education and entertainment, powered by Jio’s 5G network and Google Cloud’s expertise in AI/ML, data and analytics, and other cloud-native technologies.
Ambani said the company was also partnering with Microsoft to expand the Azure ecosystem in India and develop a "vibrant ecosystem of cloud- enabled business applications and solutions, especially for small and medium businesses".
The conglomerate is also working with Meta to bring the benefits of immersive technology to everyone, he said. Meta (previously Facebook) had invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms in April 2020 for a 9.99 percent stake.
Ambani said the company was also working with chip giant Intel on technologies used in Jio's cloud-scale data centres and 5G Edge locations, as well as in infrastructure for cutting-edge applications like Artificial Intelligence.
"We have well-established relationships with leading global network technology providers such as Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and Cisco," he said.
On August 29, Ambani announced a partnership with Qualcomm, an investor in Jio Platforms, to work together on "cloud-native, scalable, and flexible 5G infrastructure, in both mmWave and sub-6GHz, to develop an ecosystem that can extend beyond India".
"Reliance has the scale to take these solutions across industries and geographies. Our strategic partnership and complementary strengths spanning sectors and industry verticals will enable us to tackle this vast opportunity," Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said during the RIL AGM.
"As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, with Jio, we're committed to developing the digital infrastructure that enables the success of citizens and businesses, and achieves the new India envisioned by the Prime Minister." Amon said.Once these jointly developed solutions are "proven in India", they can be taken to the rest of the world, Ambani said.