Reliance Jio’s issues with incumbent telcos similar to ragging: Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani says Reliance Jio is no punt, it is a well thought-out, well executed, well engineered ecosystem

A file photo of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
A file photo of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Mumbai: Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani on Tuesday said his new telecom venture Reliance Jio is not a gamble but a well thought-out and well-engineered business, while terming the trouble with interconnectivity as similar to a meritorious student “getting ragged”.

“It is no punt. It is a well thought-out, well executed, well engineered ecosystem. It is a Rs2,50,000 crore investment,” Ambani said at ‘Off the Cuff’ show organised by The Print, a digital media outfit owned by senior journalists Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt.

He was replying to a question how can he justify investment of Rs1.5 trillion on the new entrepreneurial “punt” he had taken.

About the troubles Reliance Jio had with the regulator and the incumbents, he said, “Yes we had troubles” and compared it to a bright student getting admission into prestigious institute on merit but getting ragged in the hostel for being meritorious.

“You have to take it in the right spirit. There is a principal and there is an ecosystem so there is a governance system...I’ve no problem as long as I or Reliance get ragged, you are the big boys and you can take it but the consumer should not suffer and I think that is what Jio is doing.”

At the much-delayed launch last month, Ambani had said the company had invested Rs1.5 trillion into his new venture. But today he said the group had already pumped in Rs2.5 trillion into his second attempt at telecom, offering highspeed 4G services with focus on data.

Stating that Jio meets all the criteria of investment that Reliance has set out openly, Ambani said, “Reliance at this scale and size will not do anything that does not create huge societal value. At the end of the day I strongly believe that the society gives the licence to operate and making only money is not the licence.”

He reiterated that Reliance’s consumer businesses, which consist of digital services, media and entertainment and retail, in the next few years will be as big as its energy business.

On whether Jio had disrupted the telecom market with low data tariffs, Ambani said, “What I really don’t understand is that you progress from generations of technology. It is not new as we had announced it in 2010-11. “We didn’t do anything on stealth. In all my AGMs we have said we are going to bring the Internet to the masses because I firmly believe that the benefits of technology should go to the end-consumer,” he said.

Reliance Jio had brought about an opportunity for all incumbent operators to work together and take the nation to the next level of digital revolution, Ambani said.