Reliance Launches 'Free' Jio Phone: Four Questions That Remain Unanswered

RIL's chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani

India's disruptive new telecom entrant Reliance Jio, backed by the country's richest man Mukesh Ambani, unveiled a low-priced 4G-enabled phone on Friday to woo tens of millions of new clients, further destabilizing legacy telecom players.

Taking the Jio revolution to the next step, Reliance Chairman Mr. Mukesh Ambani has today announced the JioPhone which is introduced as "India ka smartphone".

Effectively, that means the Reliance Jio handset costs a consumer nothing. "Jio will provide this at only Rs 153 per month, that is one-thirtieth, 3% of the existing price", said Ambani.

He said India had overtaken the United States and China in mobile data usage. "Reliance democratized the equity culture in the past".

Charting RIL's long journey since its founding in 1977 by his father Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh Ambani said its net profit index had jumped 10,000 times during the last 40 years.

The JioPhone device itself is to be manufactured in India in keeping with the government's "Make in India" policy initiative, according to Ambani.

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He said that JioPhone would bring digital freedom to all Indians adding that pre-booking for Jio Phone will start from 24 August. Devices features are to include near-field connectivity, four-way navigation, an alphanumeric keyboard, a memory-card slot, a microphone and FM radio. But the announcement comes with its own set of surprises. This, it said, is since the present ARPU levels of "feature phone users is now estimated to be below Rs 100".

While introducing the JioPhone, Ambani said,"Today, Jio is going to reinvent conventional feature phones with a revolutionary device made in India, by young Indians and for all Indians".

The news will have also been carefully watched by South Korean tech giant Samsung and Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi who possess the lion's share of India's smartphone market.

The launch could also boost customer numbers on RJio's network. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), Vodafone India and Idea Cellular Ltd.

At the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, there was a full video reflecting how Reliance founder Dhirubhai Ambani emerged as a proud son of India. Ambani at the event said, "Creating fixed-line high-speed broadband services is the next leap forward for our country". Jio remains well on track to bring world-class optic-fiber connectivity to enterprises, small businesses, homes and public spaces. The infrastructure to execute broadband services is already in place, Ambani assured. This is the next big monetization opportunity for Jio. "Voice calls will always be free on the JioPhone", Ambani claiming that Jio has been offering free voice calls to its 125 million 4G customers since its launch previous year. "It took 25 years for our competitors to build a 2G network", he said.

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