India must complete the migration from 2G to 4G to 5G at the earliest and the roll out of 5G should be the country's national priority to join the next-gen digital transformation bandwagon, said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), here on Wednesday.
Delivering the virtual keynote address at the Indian Mobile Congress (IMC), Ambani said that 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.
"The roll out of 5G should be India's national priority. Jio has developed a 100 per cent home-grown and comprehensive 5G solution which is fully cloud native and digitally managed. Because of its converged, future-proof architecture, Jio's network could be quickly and seamlessly upgraded from 4G to 5G," he emphasised.
The 5G technology will represent around 39 per cent of mobile subscriptions in India at the end of 2027, estimated at about 500 million subscriptions, a new Ericsson report said last month.
According to latest data by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Reliance Jio has more than 44.38 crore subscribers.
Ambani said that affordability has been a critical driver of the phenomenally rapid expansion of mobile subscriber base in India.
"When we talk of affordability in the policy context, we only think of affordability of services. Actually, India needs to ensure affordability not only of services, but also of devices and applications," he added.
The best way of ensuring comprehensive affordability, said Ambani, is nimble adoption of futuristic technologies and supportive policy tools like use of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund for purposes other than services.
"USO fund can be used to subsidise devices to select target groups," he noted.
Nearly 5 per cent of the licence fee paid by telecom operators goes to the USO Fund.
During the Covid times, Jio was able to introduce Fibre-to-Home to five million homes.
"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," said Ambani.
"Fibre has almost unlimited data carriage capacity. Therefore, to be future-ready, India has to be fibre-ready," he added.
Beyond connectivity, the country should also focus on the critical components of the digital eco-system which are necessary for India's digital transformation, Ambani said.
"The government is putting in place a sound regulatory and policy framework for this. This has helped thousands of young Indian entrepreneurs and start-ups create platforms, applications and solutions that can accelerate India's digital transformation. We are already seeing innovative solutions in education, financial services, entertainment, retail, agriculture, manufacturing and other key verticals of the economy," he elaborated.