While there has been no official announcement from the company, it seems the telecom operations will go under the name of Jio rather than the working title of R-Jio. The company’s chat application, launched in April, goes by the name of Jio Chat, even though the official website still uses R-Jio as the title.
The identity, and an accompanying logo similar to the one used by Reliance Industries Ltd, has been used on sponsorship documents of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) film festival, which was launched on Wednesday. Jio is the title sponsor for the event and this is its first event.
An email query to the company remained unanswered but company officials said a new branding of R-Jio has been used for sponsoring the MAMI film festival.
“It could be a new logo, or could be a spin-off of the R-Jio brand for entertainment sponsorships," said a company executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Reliance Jio’s branding efforts are being spearheaded by Caroline Seifert, chief brand and design officer who assumed charge in Janaury. She reports to the core leadership team of R-Jio headed by Mukesh Ambani, chairman of the group.
Seifert was earlier senior vice-president of product design at Deutsche Telekom, according to her profile on LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking site. Seifert has been part of the telecommunications industry for over 20 years and was involved in the introduction of mobile communications into the German market.
The company, which plans to roll out commercial telecom service operations from December, is currently in the testing phase for most of its offerings including 4G services, a host of mobile phone applications and delivery of television content over its fibre optic network.
In June, R-Jio had rolled out its 4G connection and mobile applications to its employees at its headquarters at Reliance Corporate Park, in Navi Mumbai. The employees have access to R-Jio’s entire app ecosystem which includes Jio Money, its online payments application, Jio On-Demand, the on-demand video application, and Jio Beats, its music application.
“So far these apps are not available in Android and Apple stores as they are in testing phase. We are still exchanging feedback on these apps," said the executive cited above. However, none of the offerings have been opened up for public consumption under the proposed beta launch.
At the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in June, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of RIL, had said that the company will be launching commercial wireless telecom services (mobile telephony) in December. This will be preceded by a beta launch wherein the service will be offered to RIL’s employees’ family members and close friends, he had said.
“The beta launch will take some time, should happen by the end of this month or early next month," said a telecom consultant with an international consultancy firm who advises R-Jio. He did not wish to be named.
R-Jio plans to launch its high-speed data services across the country using a blend of several technologies, including two rival 4G high-speed wireless technologies, as well as other network options like FTTx (fibre to the location) and Wi-Fi hotspots. Its cloud-based services are expected to span healthcare, education and entertainment, and build synergies with the home shopping and content businesses of Network18 Media and Investments Ltd, in which RIL has acquired a majority stake.
The company will also tap Reliance Retail Ltd’s proposed e-commerce venture and projects of Reliance Foundation, RIL’s philanthropic arm. The company’s data centres will help it offer its planned services like direct-to-home (DTH) television, video-on-demand, mailing and messaging services and voice over Internet telephony (VoIP).
R-Jio is also in the process of installing hundreds of monopoles, unlike the regular rooftop-mounted telecom towers typically used by telcos, said the company executive quoted above. Monopoles, or ground-based masts (GBMs), are expected to double up as street lights and surveillance systems, and provide real-time monitoring of traffic and advertising opportunities.
While Mukesh Ambani’s 23-year-old son Akash is actively involved in day-to-day operations under the guidance of Manoj Modi (close aide of Mukesh Ambani), his 23-year-old daughter Isha is involved in branding and marketing, said another company executive who did not wish to be named.
R-Jio, meanwhile, faces its share of challenges in terms of return on investment and capturing market share. The company, according to industry analysts, is expected to spend $8-9 billion for the 4G roll-out. The company will battle for subscribers with leading telcos such as Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India Pvt Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd.