Ambani’s Reliance doubles down on 5G pledge


Coming soon: Reliance Jio has started advance tests to prepare the fifth-generation high-speed network. — Bloomberg

MUMBAI: Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has doubled down on his promise to offer 5G services on his wireless network as early as this year, as his conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd reported a record profit aided by its consumer businesses.

The group’s wireless operator, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd – India’s largest – has started advance tests to prepare the fifth-generation high-speed network, it said in a statement.

But the tycoon’s plans hinge on the availability of spectrum as the Indian government still hasn’t auctioned the required airwaves.

The Mumbai-based group, whose businesses span oil refining and petrochemicals to retail and telecommunications, said it’s testing the transmission speeds using locally-developed equipment.

Reliance Jio, with almost 411 million users, reported a 15.5% jump in profit for the three months through December from the preceding quarter, while earnings margins before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation touched 47%.

Net income at the group rose 13% from a year earlier, beating analyst estimates.

The latest quarterly results bolster Ambani’s ambitions to transform Reliance from an energy giant into a technology titan.

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. — Bloomberg

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