5 key takeaways from Reliance AGM 2018

5 key takeaways from Reliance AGM 2018

Bruce McAvoy

At its 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM), Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and MD of Reliance emphasizes the next 10 years of Reliance as its 'Golden Decade'. While only time will tell whether Jio is able to fulfill its mission to 'connect everyone and everything, everywhere – always at the highest quality and the most affordable price', leads it to a lustrous career or it remains a dream.

Now, during its AGM, Reliance made a bunch of announcements regarding the Jio Phone, the much-awaited broadband service and its plans to integrate the service to home entertainment users. As far as Jio's reputation goes, its announcement to enter the entertainment market with its GigaTV set-top box and a range of smart home solutions can entirely disrupt the broadband and cable TV market which is ruled by biggies like BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Sky, Dish TV among others.

Here are some takeaways from the Reliance AGM 2018.

Jio's subscriber base now boasts of 215 million users

While a subscriber base of 215 million only makes Jio the third largest telecom operator in India, the fact that it has amassed this in mere 22 months is a feat in itself. During the AGM, Mukesh Ambani revealed that data usage on Jio has reached 240 million GB per month while users currently make voice calls worth 530 million minutes every day. Furthermore, video consumption on Jio has grown from 250 million hours to 340 million hours per month.

Reliance Jio was able to achieve these numbers by offering mouth-watering offers, free of cost data usage and voice calls and its complimentary bouquet of apps which enabled users to consume more video content.

Along with this, smartphones under Jio's Lyf brand also drew some traction as it brought affordable options on the table. The JioFi Wi-Fi routers also received a good response which strengthened its base further.

JioPhone used by 25 million Indians

Jio clutched further into the telecom markets with its JioPhone which was launched last year in July. The company offered the feature phone free of cost for three years. The catch was the security deposit of ₹1500 which was claimed to be refundable at the end of the three-year cycle.

On Thursday, Jio announced that it now serves more than 25 million JioPhone users in India. The company also announced the JioPhone 2 which adds more features and capabilities to the feature phones. The Jio Phone 2 is a QWERTY phone which has a 2.4-inch QVGA display and is powered by KAI OS. This is backed by 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage which is expandable up to 128GB. The phone features a 2-megapixel rear and a VGA front-facing camera. JioPhone 2 also supports dual nano-SIM cards.

The Jio Phone 2 will be available at an introductory price of ₹2,999 from August 15. The company will also bring back its Monsoon Hungama offer under which feature phone users can exchange their phones for a JioPhone at just ₹501. To recap, the JioPhone is priced at ₹1500 and with this offer it gets ₹999 cheaper. This scheme will be effective from July 21 onwards.

JioPhone now supports WhatsApp, Facebook and Youtube

On Thursday, Jio finally rolled out support for three major applications for its JioPhone and JioPhone 2 in India. Both the feature phones now support WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube with their availability set to August 15 via the App Store. Additionally, users will be able to use voice commands on their JioPhone as well.

With the popularity of the JioPhone, it was only logical that the most popular apps are optimized for the feature phones as well. To this effect, Jio has closely worked with Facebook and Google to offer their services on the Jio Phone. Now, Jio has set a target of 100 million JioPhone users with the announcement of the second JioPhone.

The Gbps myth is a step closer to reality with Jio GigaFiber

There had been rumors about a mythical Jio broadband service which would allow speeds up to 1Gbps. On Thursday during the Reliance AGM, Mukesh Ambani confirmed that Beta trials of the same are underway in 'thousands of homes' across India. The Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service will be launched simultaneously in 1,100 cities pan India which will be the largest ever broadband rollout in the world.

Jio promises that its GigaFiber service will provide download and upload speeds of 1Gbps and 100Mbps respectively. While players like Spectra and ACT Fibernet already offer speeds of up to 1Gbps but do not offer its services pan India.

Jio, on the other hand, with its plan to launch in 1,100 cities might force the hands of other broadband operators in the country. While the company did not reveal any tariff details, it can be expected that Jio could offer its GigaFiber service free of cost with the exception of a small refundable fee for its GigaRouter like it has with the preview offer.

Under the preview offer, Jio has offered 100GB high-speed internet with speeds up to 100Mbps for 90 days along with complimentary access to its app portfolio. For this, users have to shell out ₹4,500 for the router which is refundable.

According to the latest reports by TRAI, the broadband subscriber base in India reached a whopping 419.79 million by the end of April, out of which, 401.41 million subscribers are mobile phone users. Jio with its arsenal of broadband services will cater to this huge market, raining over the competitor's parade.

Next stop: Disrupting the entertainment landscape

Jio along with its GigaFiber service will also be stepping into the DTH and entertainment space with its GigaTV set-top box. With this, Reliance Jio can spell doom for operators like Tata Sky, Airtel TV among others who have for long, been overcharging its users with when it comes to content distribution.

Jio GigaFiber also forms the crux of the company's smart home solutions. The Smart Home Accessories which were unveiled during the Reliance AGM comprises of audio/video dongle, smart speakers, Wi-Fi extenders, smart plugs, and indoor/outdoor and TV cameras. These accessories can be monitored and managed via the MyJio app and they also support voice commands. The company has not yet revealed the prices of these accessories and their features. We expect to get more clarity on the same when Jio officially begins enrollment for Jio GigaFiber from August 15.

The speed teased by Jio GigaFiber has a lot of potential to practically change the way Indians consume content. Combining the speeds with home entertainment GigaTV set-top-box, Jio can help usher in faster adoption ratios of UHD content and 4K supported hardware. With the GigaTV set-top-box, users can also conduct a multi-party video conference with other users.

Will the broadband and home entertainment market suffer the same consequences as various telecom operators last year? We believe this is the calm before an impending storm as we wait to get more information about the prices and tariff plans of these services by Jio.