(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Mukesh Ambani said Reliance Industries Ltd.’s 5G network will cover the remotest corners of India by December next year, providing services “more affordable than anywhere else in the world.”
The technology can bring affordable, superior education and skill development to ordinary Indians and deliver high-quality healthcare to rural and remote areas, Ambani said on Saturday at India Mobile Congress, a technology and media forum. Reliance -- an conglomerate spanning from oil to retail services -- is vying to become the first in the nation to offer 5G after investing billions of dollars to acquire the airwaves.
“India may have started a little late, but we’ll finish first by rolling out 5G services that are of higher quality and more affordable,” Ambani said at the event, which was jointly organized by the Department of Telecommunications and the Cellular Operators Association of India.
Carriers agreed to pay $19 billion just two months ago for airwaves at a government auction, with Reliance’s $11 billion bid topping the list. Additionally, the company in August said it will invest 2 trillion rupees ($24.6 billion) to roll out 5G across India as the conglomerate continues to expand and diversify into newer businesses. It said telecom unit Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. will deploy a “standalone 5G” version that doesn’t depend on the earlier 4G network and will deliver speedier connectivity.
Ambani also expects the technology will help India become a major exporter of high-value digital solutions and services as 5G can power the country’s emergence as the world’s intelligence capital.
“The global market for 5G-enabled business applications is expected to grow to $20 billion over the five years and India will be a critical contributor to this expansion,” according to Manoranjan Mohapatra, chief executive officer of mobility solutions provider Comviva, a Tech Mahindra Ltd. unit.
Reliance is counting on countrywide deployment of 5G to help woo high-paying wireless users and boost its e-commerce and media business even though the technology hasn’t yet proven profitable for other Asian wireless operators.
“5G is much more than just the next generation of connectivity technology,” Ambani said in his speech. “It is a foundational technology that unlocks the full potential of other transformative technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, Blockchain, and Metaverse.”
(Updates with comments from Ambani, industry executive from fifth paragraph)
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