Reliance Jio is in advanced talks with South Korean consumer electronics and telecom gear maker Samsung for the latter to be its third party technology provider, complementing Reliance Jio’s efforts to roll out a 5G network across the country.
Reliance has developed its own indigenous 5G technology which includes the core and 5G radios and plans to launch standalone 5G services – unlike its rivals who will start with non-standalone 5G in which the core of the network will still be on 4G.
Samsung and Reliance have taken the crucial steps towards a collaborative effort by starting 5G test trials in Mumbai, a key city in the 5G sweepstakes. Reliance is also testing its 5G solutions on its own in Mumbai and in Jamnagar.
Even earlier, the two companies enjoyed a close relationship as it was Samsung which built Reliance Jio’s 4G network after winning the bid despite tough competition from Huawei and European players. Reliance’s 5G trial tests with Ericsson in Delhi and Nokia have not yet begun, according to sources.
The same sources say Reliance Jio has received approval to use Samsung’s equipment after Samsung was recently endorsed as a ‘trusted source’ by the National Security Council Secretariat.
Under the government’s telecom rules, it is mandatory for an OEM player to gain this ‘trusted’ tag before it can supply any equipment to telcos. Telcos wishing to buy equipment for OEMs first need to make an application to the Secretariat saying they would like to buy equipment from a certain company.
The next step is for the OEM to apply for the ‘trusted source’ tag. Jio received similar permissions for Ericsson, Nokia, Dell and Cisco.
Owing to the Chinese-India conflict on the border in Ladakh, the Chinese giant Huawei has yet to receive permission to participate in the 5G telecom gear sweepstakes in India.
At a recent event, Matthew Oommen, Reliance Jio president and the company’s key technology person, said Reliance was currently focusing on building the various 5G platforms and was not shy of collaborating with ‘third party’ technology providers in addition to its own. Reliance Jio did not, however, comment on the issue. Nor did Samsung respond to queries.
Reliance is developing not only its own indigenous 5G technology but is also ensuring the back-end manufacturing of telecom gear within India. For instance, it recently announced that it will be setting up a JV with US-based Sanmina Corporation, the sixth largest electronics manufacturing services company in the world, and will invest Rs 1,670 crore in its Indian unit.
The JV plant, which is eligible for the government’s Production Linked Incentive scheme in telecom products, will be used for Reliance Jio’s telecom gear needs.
The ambition at Reliance Jio is to become a global player able to take on incumbent telecom gear players such as Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia.
However, open radio network technology, rather than proprietary technology where software and hardware used to be bundled and offered by the same player, lies at the core of 5G.
Telcos now have the upper hand as they can choose to collaborate with a range of technology providers and buy equipment from a whole range of players, as well as marry them with their own indegenous technology.
For Samsung (one of the newest telecom gear players), Reliance has been its dominant customer for 4G, apart from telcos in its own home market as well as in Japan. Business Standard