The latest quarterly results bolster Ambani’s ambitions to transform Reliance from an energy giant into a technology titan -- a pivot that has received $27 billion from global investors including Facebook Inc. and Google. Ambani, Asia’s second-richest man, promised last month that Jio will be the first to roll out 5G in India in the second half of this year. He’s looking to lure nearly 300 million users still on the older 2G technology offered by Jio’s rivals.
“Jio will continue to accelerate the roll out of its digital platforms and indigenously developed next generation 5G stack and make it affordable and available everywhere,” Ambani, Reliance’s chairman, said in the statement. “Jio is determined to make India 2G-mukt,” or 2G-free, he said.
The 63-year-old tycoon’s 5G plans, however, are contingent on the Indian government’s auction of airwaves specifically allotted for these services. No date has been announced for this spectrum auction.
Jio, backed by its cash-rich and net-debt-free parent, is in the pole position to offer 5G services, whenever government rules allow, at possibly dirt-cheap prices, in what may be an encore of its debut strategy. Reliance Jio
disrupted India’s telecom market in 2016 when it entered with free calls and super cheap data, forcing rivals to merge, quit or go bankrupt.
Ambani’s bet on consumer services -- telecom and retail -- seems to be paying off despite the pandemic, helping the conglomerate offset a slump in its crude oil refining business
Key highlights of Reliance Industries’ quarterly earnings:
Net income beat estimates to rise 13% y-o-y to 131.01 billion rupees ($1.8 billion)
Consolidated revenue fell 21% to 1.24 trillion rupees
Total costs dropped 22% to 1.13 trillion rupees
Jio’s 3Q profit at 34.9 billion rupees
Jio’s average revenue per user rose to 151 rupees
Total debt, as of Dec. 31, stood at 2.57 trillion rupees
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