How Jio spearheaded the mobile data revolution

by May 26, 2022 1 comment

Edited excerpts from an exhaustive video interview with Sandip Das, Independent Board Director & Advisor, Sterlite Technologies & Former MD & CEO, Jio

“I have no doubts in my mind that the real catalyst to Internet usage on the mobile was Jio. I don’t mean this badly to other operators. Speaking extremely objectively… I know a lot of people said they crashed prices etc. The real crux of the matter is much deeper. There was a very strong strategic intent in the manner in which mobile digitization was introduced into the country.

For a very long time, operators sat very pretty on fat cat voice revenues. Their 2G networks had been around for a couple of decades and they had all depreciated. The cost to produce airtime was not that large. They were making comfortable money on voice. Everybody used to boast that 20% of income was coming from Value Added Services, part of which there was something called data usage.

Building a mobile data ecosystem

But when Jio came in, their voice was saturated so they went about every aspect of network building with a toothcomb. They set up very fine 4G networks and very efficient towers. They had the advantage because they had no legacy networks. When I look back India could have skipped 3G and gone to 4G directly. Substantial sums of money were spent on the spectrum and while the companies were still busy rolling out their 3G networks, 4G came.

Reliance said that let’s produce a very increased data experience. The consumer’s actual feel data flows like water. This means you turn it on, data comes, flows uninterrupted and you don’t have to worry about how much you pay for it because you use it like water. It became very important for the pricing of data to be such that all entry barriers to data usage were easy.

The societal impact of the mobile revolution

Others caught on and did extremely well too. When you put data in the hands of people, smartphones in the hands of people, which is affordable and gives a great experience, people find it difficult to get out of it. We all know and there’s more than enough evidence of the fact that mobile penetration improves the per capita income of a nation. It provides more opportunities and employment. The Human Development Index goes up and it empowers the individual. Across industries, things changed. Every business has something to do with online transactions happening on the phone. When there’s a high tide, all boats rise.

The pandemic was a turning point

We praised the paramedics a lot during the pandemic. But I don’t think we praised networks and communications as much. While the paramedics did their jobs and there is no denying the fact that they worked out of their skins to save the lives of people, imagine a life where we would not be connected at all! Companies started doing Zoom businesses and healthcare started happening on Zoom. People started talking to each other. Can you imagine what would have happened to the mental health of individuals in this incarcerated position if you did not have networks?

They played a very important role and continued to do so. People started getting more comfortable with digital. A lot of people who were not initiated into the world of digital like older people, and people in rural and semi-urban areas, all started getting involved. As a result of which the entire barrier to entry for online shopping, online business, online consultation, online education, and online healthcare, every barrier got lowered enormously.

It is clear that the entire pandemic and the manner in which the whole data revolution happened along with it has contributed to what is happening today.”

These are excerpts from a video chat with Editor Sunil Rajguru and part of our PCQuest 35 Years Series on the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow of Technology.

Check out the complete interview…


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  1. KG
    #1 KG 27 May, 2022, 09:40

    JIO has also been a major contributor in IPV6 adoption for India. There is a deck published by them.

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