Reliance Jio Partners With Microsoft for IoT, AI, Blockchain and Cloud Services


India’s Reliance  Jio, which has disrupted the local telecom and features phone markets in less than three years of its existence, is ready to foray into many more businesses.

In a series of announcements Monday, that included a long-term partnership with global giant Microsoft,  Reliance Jio said it will commercially launch its broadband service next month; an IoT platform with ambitions to power more than a billion devices on January 1 next year; “one of the world’s biggest blockchain networks” in the next 12 months; all while also scaling its retail and commerce businesses.

The broadband service, called Jio Fiber, is aimed at individual customers, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as enterprises, Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said at a shareholders meeting today.

The service, which is being initially targeted at 20 million homes and 15 million businesses in 1,600 towns, will start rolling out commercially starting September 5. Ambani said more than half a million customers have already been testing the broadband service, which was first unveiled last year.

The broadband service will come bundled with access to hundreds of TV channels and free calls across India and at discounted rates in the U.S. and Canada, Ambani, the richest man in Asia, said. The service, the cheapest tier of which will offer internet speeds of 100Mbps, will be priced at Rs 700 (~$10) a month. The company said it will offer various plans to meet a variety of needs including those customers who want access to gigabit internet speeds.

Continuing its tradition to woo users with significant offers, Jio, which is a subsidiary of India largest industrial house (Reliance Industries) said customers who opt for the yearly-plan of its fiber broadband will be provided with the set-top box and an HD or 4K TV at no extra charge. Specific details won’t be available for another few weeks. A premium tier, which will be available next year, will allow customers to watch many movies on the day of their public release.

The broadband service will bundle games from many popular studios including Microsoft Game Studios, Riot Games, Tencent Games, and Gameloft, Jio said.

Partnership with Microsoft
The company also announced a 10-year partnership with Microsoft to leverage the Redmond giant’s Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft AI platforms to launch new cloud data-centers in India to ensure “more of Jio’s customers can access the tools and platforms they need to build their own digital capability,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella  in a video appearance Monday.

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Core to this mission is deep partnerships, like the one we are announcing today with Reliance Jio. Our ambition is to help millions of organizations across India thrive and grow in the era of rapid technological change.”

“Together, we will offer a comprehensive technology solution, from computing to storage, to connectivity and productivity for small and medium-sized businesses everywhere in the country,” he added.

As part of the partnership, Nadella said, Jio and Microsoft will jointly offer Office 365 to more organizations in India, and also bring Azure Cognitive Services to more devices and in 13 Indian languages to businesses in the country. The solutions will be “accessible” to reach as many people and organizations in India as possible, he added. The cloud services will be offered to businesses for as little as Rs 1,500 ($21) per month.

The first two data-centers will be set up in Gujarat and Maharashtra by next year. Jio will migrate all of its non-networking apps to the Microsoft Azure platform and promote its adoption among its ecosystem of startups, the two said in a joint statement.

The foray into broadband business and push to court small enterprises come as Reliance Industries, which dominates the telecom and retail spaces in India, attempts to diversify from its marquee oil and gas business. Reliance Jio, the nation’s top telecom operator, has amassed more than 340 million subscribers in less than three years of its commercial operations.

At the meeting, Ambani also unveiled that Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil producer Aramco was buying 20% stake in $75 billion worth Reliance Industries’ oil-to-chemicals business.

Ambani also said Jio is working on a “digital stack” to create a new commerce partnership platform in India to reach tens of millions of merchants, consumers, and producers.

The announcement comes weeks after Reliance Industries acquired a majority stake in Fynd, a Mumbai-based startup that connects brick and mortar retailers with online stores and consumers, for $42.3 million.

Without revealing specific details, Ambani also said that Jio is building an IoT platform to control at least one billion of the two billion IoT devices in India by next year. He said he sees IoT as a $2.8 billion revenue opportunity for Jio. Similarly, the company also plans to expand its blockchain network across India, he said.

“Using blockchain, we can deliver unprecedented security, trust, automation, and efficiency to almost any type of transaction. And using blockchain, we also have an opportunity to invent a brand-new model for data privacy where Indian data, especially customer data is owned and controlled through technology by the Indian people and not by corporates, especially global corporations,” he said.

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