Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani on Wednesday pitched for making roll-out of 5G services a national priority, and called for policy measures to ensure affordability of devices along with telecom services.
“Indians have embraced technology with unbridled optimism. During COVID, when the chips were down, it was the chipsets that kept us going. When COVID-induced lockdowns rocked our boats, it was technology that kept our lives and livelihoods afloat,” Mr. Ambani said at the inaugural session of the India Mobile Congress 2021.
To ensure ‘connectivity for the next decade’, he said India must complete the migration from 2G to 4G to 5G at the earliest. “To keep millions of Indians at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid confined to 2G is to deprive them of the benefits of the digital revolution,” he said speaking at the session which was also attended by Telecom and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
Stating that roll-out of 5G should be India’s national priority, Mr. Ambani said that Reliance Jio was currently focused on 4G and 5G execution and broadband infrastructure expansion, and had developed a 100% home-grown and comprehensive 5G solution which is fully cloud native and digitally managed.
“We should not lose sight of the fact that affordability has been a critical driver of the phenomenally rapid expansion of the mobile subscriber base in India. India should move towards greater digital inclusion, and not greater digital exclusion,” he said.
Mr. Ambani added that when there was talk of affordability in the policy context, it is currently limited to affordability of services. However, India needs to ensure affordability of devices and applications. He also pitched for utilisation of the Universal Obligation Fund to subsidise devices for select target groups.
“Ubiquitous Fibre Connectivity should be completed across India on a mission mode…Fibre has almost unlimited data carriage capacity. Therefore, to be future-ready, India has to be fibre-ready…If all the players in the industry work together, we can rapidly achieve a nationwide footprint of Fibre, just as we reached mobile telephony to every corner of the country in the last decade,” Mr. Ambani said.
He added that beyond connectivity, India should focus on the critical components of the digital ecosystem which are necessary for the country’s digital transformation. “Another candidate for radical transformation is India’s energy systems. Technologies are maturing for energy saving through smart grids decarbonisation of the economy, and drastic reduction in cost of India’s transition to clean and green energy,” he added.
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