Mumbai, June 12 (IANS) Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani on Friday listed the specifics of some big-ticket investments worth Rs.200,000 crore ($33 billion), spanning refining to retail, and said 4G services will roll-out from December under “Jio” brand with devices from Rs.4,000.
“We are nearing the realisation of our largest investment programme in our history of Rs.100,000 crore,” Ambani told the company’s 41st annual general meeting here, adding half of that will be in refining and petrochem business and the other half under the digital India platform.
He said these initiatives, in refining, petrochem, oil and gas exploration, broadband and retail will fructify over the next 12-18 months. But the bulk of his address was devoted to Reliance Jio — the group’s latest initiative on digital India.
“In our digital business, our plan is to provide the same power of computing, communication and information to every individual, whether in towns or rural areas, which the US president had 10-15 years ago,” he said.
“All this at about Rs.300 to Rs.500 per month.”
The chairman said the Relianc team was currently on pre-launch testing and stabilisation phase of this large and complex network and that soft-launch had been planed over the next few months with around million customers.
“This beta programme will be upgraded into commercial operations around December of this year,” he said, adding that the company now has end-to-end initial capacity to serve over 100 million broadband and 20 million fibre-to-home customers for the Jio platform.
On devices, the chairman said the focus has been on affordable, yet innovative smartphones.
“Jio and Reliance Digital teams have worked with all leading device manufacturers of the world to ensure availability of VoLTE (Voice-over-long-term evolution) 4G smartphones across all price points — from ultra-premium models on one hand, to entry level models on the other,” he said.
“The combination of Jio’s strong initiatives and a supportive global environment, gives me the confidence that we will see VoLTE phones in India at prices below Rs.4,000 by December of this year,” Ambani said.
The company will also offer a host of other apps and services like Jio Chat app that has garnered over one million active users in three months. Other offerings include switch-and-walk app, Jio Drive (cloud app), Jio play, Jio beats, Jio mags, Jio news and Jio money.
While the switch-and-walk app will allow customers to seamlessly copy everything from their old phone to a new phone, the Jio drive will enable cloud capabilities. Jio beats, Jio mags and Jio news, as their names suggest, would be digital services offering for content dissemination.
Earlier in his address, Ambani sought an early revision of gas prices and urged the government to quickly resolve what he termed as “legacy issues” over its production-sharing contracts for discovered hydrocarbon.
Reliance, he said, was a pioneer in deep-water production of oil and gas and that the company was trying hard to raise output from the challenging areas in the Krishna-Godavari basin. But returns were below the cost of capital.
“We are constructively engaged with the government to resolve legacy issues in a timely manner with regard to our rights to cost recovery, gas pricing and other issues to create value for the nation and our shareholders.”
He also told the 41st annual general meeting at the Birla Matoshree Auditorium here that: “We are hopeful that the government will address this policy issue in the larger interest of attracting investments in the critical E&P business.”