Mukesh Ambani

Indian business magnate and the chairman, managing director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited, Mukesh Ambani said on Sunday that Reliance Jio will soon commercially launch the 4G service in India.

The company is almost ready to announce the high-speed mobile Internet as well as voice services in second half of 2016, offering over 80 percent of Indian subscribers. Back in December 2015, the firm had launched the services, however, those were limited to the company’s employees.

“We’ll be ready to launch in the second half of 2016. 80 percent of India’s population will have high-speed, mobile broadband Internet.

“So 80 percent of the 1.3 billion Indians will have high-speed, mobile Internet. And by 2017, we would cover 90 percent. And by 2018, all of India would be covered by this digital infrastructure,” Ambani told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview.

Currently, around 1,20,000 employees, their families and business partners are using the Reliance Jio’s 4G Internet facilities

According to Press Trust of India, the firm, a unit of Reliance Industries Ltd, has invested close to USD 15 billion in the telecom venture so far. R-Jio holds the highest amount of liberalised (free to use for any service) spectrum among telecom operators, totalling 51.1MHz across the 800MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,300MHz bands. Zakaria travelled from New York to Mumbai to meet Ambani at his residence – Antilia. He is the only person to have interviewed Ambani twice.

Asked about Reliance’s massive investment in acquiring airwaves and laying physical infrastructure for offering high-speed Internet services, Ambani said he believed that humanity is at the doorstep of massive change, and “we’re just at the beginning of the information and the digital age.”

“And in the next 20 years, in a network society, we are going to have change much more than what we have seen in the last hundred years,” he said.

Ambani said digitisation will be at the forefront of the digital revolution and India cannot be left behind.

“As we saw in the year 2012-13, India is 150th in the world in mobile broadband penetration as well as quality. And Jio has really been conceived to change this position,” he said.

Falling lights on the US network coverage mapping, he revealed that the 4G services were introduced four years ago in the country, and still the major telcos are covering 75 to 80 percent of the market. “And we would be pretty much doing that in 2016 itself,” he said. He perceives the digital infrastructure as a good area of investment.

“For me personally, we made this investment just to make sure that the youth of India, which is still the bulk of India — India, as you know, is a very young country is empowered, and they have an equal opportunity to not only prosper themselves, but to contribute to this new world.

“And that was really a main reason. And that’s why we took very high risks,” he said.

The investment with time “now looks like being pretty good even business-wise,” he added