Cable TV

Will Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio do what Bill Gates’ Windows did?

MUMBAI: Computer in its early days was only used by government organisations for various defence purposes. The size of the device kept getting smaller as generations passed by and now, deemed as a necessity, it is omnipresent in almost every house. But what opened the floodgates for computer in every house almost twenty years ago in 1995 was Bill Gates’ Windows 95.

Cut to 2015 and the present scenario in India. The current fad, which might just be here to stay, are Over The Top (OTT) players. Media and entertainment content companies are bullish on the OTT scenario and multiple apps have mushroomed left, right and centre over the last few months. However, they haven’t yet managed to augment a revolution of sorts by their services, thanks to the poor infrastructure support in the country. The broadband or mobile internet bandwidth is, on the one hand, too slow to offer a good viewing experience and on the other, it is also very expensive.

The country currently has more than 350 million internet users and the number is expected to reach 640 million by 2019, of which 528 millions are estimated to be wireless consumers as per a report by KPMG.

The growth rate of smartphones and tablets is also very encouraging for the video on demand (VOD) ecosystem. The number of tablets in India is is expected to be more than 18 million by 2019, according to the US-based firm's Visual Networking Index (VNI) global mobile data traffic forecast for 2014 to 2019.

The report said that in India, the number of smartphones grew 54 per cent during 2014, reaching 140 million in number and the number of smartphones will grow 4.7-fold between 2014 and 2019, reaching 651 million in number.

 What Colors CEO Raj Nayak has to say is by far the most apt depiction of the Indian OTT ecosystem in the current scenario. “The only reason why digital has not yet taken off in  India is because of the bandwidth issue. If any service can resolve that issue, it will be a complete game changer. There will be a leapfrogging of content consumption in mobile devices be it smartphones or tablets,” he opines.


And addressing that issue soon will be Mukesh Ambani’s ambitious project Reliance Jio.

Reliance Jio is Ambani’s visionary mission of spreading internet to every nook and corner of the country. Industry watchers say that the organisation in entering the market with a ginormous corpus fund of approximately Rs 70,000 crore. Under the able leadership of cable industry veteran K Jayaraman as CEO of Reliance Jio, the company has now started to take the aerial route to fast forward proceedings. It is now connecting pole to pole through cable in order to spread deep and fast.

Jio is also teaming up with multiple last mile owners (LMOs) to expedite execution. As was reported earlier by, Reliance is planning to carry out Jio’s soft launch on the occasion of Dhirubhai Ambani’s birth anniversary on 28 December this year. 

Speculations are also rife that Reliance Jio is planning to unleash its services with affordable pricing, which will no doubt disrupt the market. “The focus with Jio is not money but the vision that we have. The pricing and speed will surprise many,” said a source close to the development.

The question on every one’s lips is: Will Reliance Jio resolve bandwidth issues in the country? Moreover, will Mukesh Ambani’s Jio do what Bill Gates’ Windows did? spoke to multiple industry stakeholders to ascertain their expectations. Here’s what they had to say: 

Spuul Global CEO Subin Subaiah says, “Give a consumer higher speed at lower costs, and it gives him a huge incentive to consume more content - especially video - online. We  are watching Reliance Jio’s launch with keen interest, which should lead to other service providers following suit - creating a market where data costs and speeds are not an  impediment to consumption.”

Reliance Industries’ latest AGM grabbed Eros Now COO Karan Bedi’s attention. “Mr Ambani in their AGM announced that they are rolling out Reliance Jio in December and that’s  a very positive move. The statement made Airtel roll out their 4G services immediately and the service is good. Other telcos are also planning to unleash their services soon. So  overall it’s certainly a move towards the positive side,” he says.  

''Bandwidth has been an issue for OTT services and we are looking forward to the new launch of Reliance Jio. Hope it turns out to be a consumer friendly proposition. Any improved internet service will certainly help the ecosystem,'' asserts Zee Digital Convergence Limited CEO and India web portal CEO Debashish Ghosh.

#Fame CEO Saket Saurabh adds, “We are waiting for the launch. Let’s see how it goes. If the internet infrastructure develops, it will be good for the entire ecosystem.”  

 “From a consumer perspective, 4G would more be a network bandwidth problem solver and hence would immensely expand the experience of browsing and interacting with  mobile internet products. And from a digital and mobile player perspective, I expect 4G to significantly enhance the reach and innovation in the mobile video ecosystem. Today,  Indian online users watch approximately 40 per cent of YouTube videos on their mobile phones even when the experience is not the best and I am really looking forward  to Reliance Jio’s launch. Any new player disrupting the mobile ecosystem adds a new dimension to the environment. So from a consumer perspective, just as Monsoon Dhamaka  was a massive disruption to making mobile phone accessible to all, I expect 4G launch of Reliance to be also a dhamaka for the consumer and the mobile marketing,” opines Madhouse South Asia COO Milind Pathak.

Ping Network CEO Rajashree Naik adds, “Even a marginal shift in internet speeds will have a significant impact in data consumption - for us in the video space, there is a relevant link between consumption and speeds. For everyone in the internet and content space, if the consumer experience is enhanced because of speeds much of our own    business metrics will change. So whether it is Jio or any other data options that will make it cheaper to consume and remove the buffering hurdle, will certainly be something to look forward to.”  

Even as the stage is set for Reliance Jio's disruptive entry into the Indian telecom market, rivals are gearing up to fire their respective salvos. While India is waking up to some interesting times ahead in the telecom space, what each one does to change the ecosystem, only time will tell.

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