Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Indian tycoon Ambani reveals $25-billion 5G plan

Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has announced a $25-billion plan to launch 5G mobile internet services in the country within two months.

Ambani, who heads the telecoms-to-retail group Reliance Industries, said the high-speed network will be introduced first in major cities, including New Delhi and Mumbai, the BBC reports.

He said it will expand to the rest of India by December 2023.

Speaking on Monday at Reliance’s annual general meeting, Ambani said that once the firm’s 5G network is fully operational it would be the biggest in the world.

The service will be rolled out through Reliance’s subsidiary Jio, which is India’s largest mobile carrier.

Ambani said that Reliance was working with U.S. tech giant Google to develop an “ultra-affordable” 5G smartphone, without giving further details on its price or planned launch date.

The cheapest 5G-ready smartphones in India currently cost around $150.

The announcements came as the battle for domination in India’s digital future is heating up.

Earlier this month, the Indian government concluded a record $19-billion auction for airwaves, including 5G airwaves, where Jio emerged as the top buyer.

It also drew bids from other major players Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, and new entrant Adani Data Networks.

The fifth generation of high-speed mobile internet – or 5G – supports emerging technologies such as driverless cars and artificial intelligence.

It is seen to be central to India’s plans to transform the country into a $1-trillion digital economy.

In May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that 5G would “not only accelerate internet speed but also boost development and employment.”

During the wide-ranging address to investors, Ambani also laid out a succession plan for his business empire.

The 65-year-old confirmed that his daughter Isha would head Reliance’s retail ventures, while his youngest son Anant would join its new energy business.

His eldest son Akash was appointed as the chairman of Jio in June.

With an estimated net worth of $91.9 billion, Ambani is the 11th richest person in the world and the second richest person in Asia, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

His late father Dhirubhai Ambani founded a textiles manufacturer that would eventually become Reliance Industries.

It is now India’s largest conglomerate by market value, with businesses including petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecommunications, and retail.

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