Mukesh Ambani's US$30 billion gamble is paying off with early profits* and 12 million joining every month. He built an extraordinary network to 96% of Indians. It's all 4G and designed well enough a Verizon senior executive is envious. He expects to cover 99% of the 1,324,000,000 Indians within a year. Speeds in government tests average 20 megabits and have been rising.

The financials show a profit already, despite revenue per user of less than US$2/month. If one day passes are excluded, the ARPU remains in low single digits. The enormous number of users is essential for profitability at a low price. So is extreme efficiency. It's a 4G only network, state of the art and pure IP for minimal complexity. Lee Hicks at Verizon leads One Verizon, which is building a simplified network. He estimates his cost savings at 50% in the first year. Jio shows it works.

Next step: 50 million fibre to the home connections, not just homes passed. That's three times as many as the United States. The massive fibre backbone keeps that cost low.

Jio Music has already recorded a nominal US$500 million gain. The video service is growing rapidly and has forced Netflix to lower the price in India. The KaiOS app-store for JioPhone offers customised versions of YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook and presumably will follow the IPhone app store to major profitability.

For payments, he owns 30% of the joint venture with the State Bank of India. E-commerce and just about every profitable Internet application are in his sights.

Samsung has provided most of the equipment, often financed by Korean government credits. Volume purchasing power has brought the cost of phones all the way down. 4G feature phones are as low as US$25, with attractive financing. Smartphones aren't much more expensive.

The whole network is ready for 5G NR, ready to upgrade 120 days after the government gives permission. 

ET cites analysts who believe Jio is understating depreciation and not yet profitable.  Even if that's right, profitability is close.

Media Release

Mumbai, 17th October 2018

JIO CROSSED 250 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS WITHIN 25 MONTHS FROM COMMENCEMENT OF SERVICES

ACCELERATED GROWTH IN SUBSCRIBER BASE TO 252.3 MILLION

DATA CONSUMPTION AT RECORD 771 CRORE GB DURING THE QUARTER; 11 GB PER USER PER MONTH, GROWING RAPIDLY

STRONG DEMAND FOR FTTH ACROSS 1,100 CITIES IN EARLY PHASE OF REGISTRATIONS

ROBUST FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE WITH EBITDA GROWTH OF 14% QOQ AND 148% YOY TO ₹3,573 CRORE IN Q2

FY 2018-19 HIGHLIGHTS OF QUARTER’S (Q2 – FY 2018-19)

PERFORMANCE

Standalone revenue from operations of ₹9,240 crore (13.9% QoQ growth) 

Standalone EBITDA of ₹3,573 crore (13.5% QoQ growth) and EBITDA margin of 38.7% 

Standalone Net Profit of ₹681 crore 

Subscriber base as on 30th Sep-18 of 252.3 million 

Lowest churn in the industry at 0.66% per month 

ARPU during the quarter of ₹131.7 per subscriber per month 

Total wireless data traffic during the quarter of 771 crore GB 

Total voice traffic during the quarter of 53,379 crore minutes

   Commenting on the results, Shri Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited said: “Jio was conceived with a mission to connect everyone and everything, everywhere – always at the highest quality and the most affordable price. We, at Jio, are glad with our progress towards our mission with more than 250 million subscribers on our network within 25 months of commencement of services. We have enabled our customers to adopt the digital life, with record consumption of data and use of digital services. Our next generation FTTH and enterprise services are now being made available to our customers to further enhance our value proposition to our customers. We are making rapid progress on the growth of our digital platforms, across new commerce, media and entertainment, agriculture, education, healthcare and financial services, which will further enhance the quality of life and productivity of the people of India.”

Strong Customer Engagement

 Jio has accelerated its pace of subscriber additions further with net addition during the quarter of 37.0 million (as against 28.7 million in the previous quarter), highest in any quarter since the launch of commercial services

 Gross adds at 41.7 million and churn of 4.7 million implying the lowest industry churn rate at 0.66% per month

 Customer engagement continued to grow with average data consumption per user per month of 11.0 GB and average voice consumption of 761 minutes per user per month

 Video consumption drove most of the usage, increasing to 410 crore hours per month on the network; average video consumption of 17.5 hours per subscriber per month

 Jio post-paid plan with attractive international calling tariffs and roaming plans continues to see good customer traction

 JioPhone Monsoon Hungama offer (by Reliance Retail) with exchange policy and lower upfront commitment has accelerated customer uptake Superior and Next-Gen Network

 Further deepening of all-IP 4G LTE network in existing areas along with coverage expansion to 99% of population is on track to be completed in FY19

 Only network to deploy tri-band (800MHz/ 1800MHz/ 2300MHz) pan-India 4G

 World’s largest mobile data consumption network which is 5G ready

 World’s largest VOLTE network, with voice traffic growing consistently

 Ranked fastest network over last 20 months by TRAI’s MySpeed Analytics app (average download speed of 20.6 Mbps during September 2018, as per TRAI)

 Lowest call drop rate at 0.14%; 100% core network availability FTTH and Enterprise Services

 JioGigaFiber services for Home broadband, Entertainment, Smart Home Solutions, Wireline and Enterprise was announced during 41st AGM (Post IPO) of RIL held on 5th July 2018

 Customers across 1,100+ cities have evinced strong interest to avail JioGigaFiber services since the start of registrations on 15th August 2018. Homes are being connected on priority based on the number of requests received in the area

    Reliance Industries Limited, parent of the Company, today announced strategic investments in and partnership with Den Networks Limited and Hathway Cable and Datacom Limited: o Primary investment of Rs. 2,045 crore through a preferential issue under SEBI regulations and secondary purchase of Rs. 245 crore from the existing promoters for a 66% stake in Den Networks Limited o Primary investment of Rs. 2,940 crore through a preferential issue under SEBI regulations for a 51.3% stake in Hathway Cable and Datacom Limited o The transactions are subject to customary regulatory approvals These investments and partnerships will create a win-win outcome for the Local Cable Operators (“LCOs”), Consumers, Content providers and overall eco-system. Through these investments, Reliance and Jio will be strengthening the 27,000 LCOs that are aligned with DEN and Hathway to enable them to participate in the digital transformation of India through (a) access to superior back-end infrastructure; (b) tie-ups with content producers; (c) access to latest business platforms to improve business efficiencies and deliver customer experience; and (d) investment in digital infrastructure for connecting customers. This will create multiple future opportunities for LCOs as Jio rolls out new services and platforms. Jio has already started work on connecting 50 million homes across 1,100 cities. It will work together with Hathway and DEN and all the LCOs to offer a quick and affordable upgrade to a world-class line-up of JioGigaFiber and Jio Smart-Home Solutions to the 24 million existing cable connected homes of these companies across 750 cities. This will accelerate Jio’s commitment to connect 50 million homes with JioGigaFiber in the shortest possible time. Largest Distribution and Service Network

 Pan-India distribution channel with over 1 million retailers

 Continuous enablement of distribution channel through latest platforms and services

 Auto-recharge and Auto-pay to get a zero-touch service experience

 MyJio is the most popular self-care app with additional features to enable single customer touch point across services

 Voice BOT (Hello Jio) rolled out with MyJio to address customer queries Suite of Differentiated Digital Offerings

 JioTV is the best rated live and catch-up TV app; JioCinema is the most popular video-ondemand app; JioMusic and Saavn together is music powerhouse with over 40 million songs; JioMags and JioNews are other highly popular customer offerings

 Announced a 5-year partnership with Star India to make all televised India-cricket matches held in India (T20, ODIs, International Test Matches, and Premier BCCI domestic competitions) available to users of JioTV in India

 Announced strategic arrangement with Disney to get all of Disney content on Jio platforms

 Strengthened the KaiOS app-store for JioPhone users with customised versions of popular social media applications like YouTube, WhatsApp and Facebook

 Post operationalization of Jio Payments Bank (a 70:30 JV between RIL and SBI), Jio and SBI deepened their digital partnership. SBI-YONO’s digital banking features and solutions will be enabled through the MyJio platform for a seamless, integrated and superior customer experience. Additionally, SBI will be engaging Jio as one of its preferred partners for designing and providing network and connectivity solutions Financial Performance Reflects Robust Business Fundamentals

 Strong financial performance despite competitive pressures led by growth in subscriber additions and industry leading customer engagement

 Industry leading Revenue and EBITDA growth over the past four quarters driving sustained market share gains

BUSINESS UPDATE

1. Jio has built a next generation all-IP data network with latest 4G LTE technology. It is the only network built as a Mobile Video Network and for providing Voice over LTE technology. It has built a future ready network which can easily deploy 5G and beyond technology in the last leg. Jio has created an eco-system comprising network, devices, applications and content, service experience and affordable tariffs for everyone to live the Jio Digital Life.

2. Jio has created a strong data network with infrastructure and backhaul for offering wireless services, wireline services, FTTH, Enterprise offering, IOT services and other digital services. These will lead to sustained growth in data consumption on the network.

3. Jio continues to be the most popular wireless broadband service provider in the country with its subscriber base increasing to 252.3 million as of 30-September-2018. Net subscriber addition for the Company during the past twelve months was 114 million, which is the highest in the industry by a substantial margin. The growth in subscriber base is getting further accelerated with Monsoon Hungama offer for JioPhone, attractive post-paid offerings, and focused partnerships to deepen mobile data penetration in the country.

4. The engagement metrics of the Jio subscribers is the highest in the industry in India and among the highest globally as well. Average data consumption at 11.0 GB per user per month, average voice consumption at 761 minutes per user per month and average video consumption at 17.5 hours per user per month make Jio the leader in the industry across all of these service offerings. Average data consumption has continued to increase despite higher base, primarily driven by superior network performance and improving use cases on the Jio platform.

5. Reliance Retail Ltd launched the ‘Monsoon Hungama’ offer for JioPhone with upfront security deposit of only ₹ 501 for a new JioPhone during the quarter. The offer works in conjunction with return of an old feature phone. Also, JioPhone 2, which offers a larger screen and full QWERTY keyboard for a price of ₹ 2,999 has been offered through limitedperiod flash sales. Most used social media applications like YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp are now available for Jio Phone users.

6. The company announced its JioGigaFiber services for Homes and Enterprise at the 41st AGM (post IPO) of RIL held on 5th July 2018. Customers have shown overwhelming interest to avail JioGigaFiber services and homes are being connected on priority based on the requests received from the neighbourhood. Homes connected in the initial phase have  witnessed meaningful increase in data consumption led by superior user experience on dedicated fiber connectivity to every home.

7. Jio’s end-to-end all IP network is the most differentiated network with functionalities such as SDN and NFV. It has been consistently rated as the fastest network in India by TRAI’s MySpeed application over the last 20 months with an average download speed of 20.6 Mbps during September 2018. Jio has also been consistently rated to have the widest LTE coverage in the country.

8. During the quarter, Jio was awarded the 1st rank in The Fortune Change the World 2018 List of global companies. Jio brand was also recognised as one of the ‘Champions of Rural Market’ by Economic Times in September 2018. Jio KBC recently won ‘Best Integrated Branded Content’ and ‘Best use of Mobile Medium for Marketing’ awards during Indian Content Marketing Awards. Jio also ranked among Top-3 Most Influential Brands in India as per a survey by Ipsos in July 2018. 

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon will turn on the first $20B 5G mmWave network, soon offering a gigabit or close to 30M homes. The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while keeping capex at around 15%.

The Koreans, Chinese, and almost all Europeans are not doing mmWave in favor of mid-band "5G," with 4G-like performance. Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 4X to 10X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year. I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

The predicted massive small cell builds are a pipe dream for vendors for at least five years. Verizon expects to reach a quarter of the U.S. without adding additional small cells. 

In the works: Enrique Blanco and Telefonica's possible mmWave disruption of Germany; Believe it or don't: 5G is cheap because 65% of most cities can be covered by upgrading existing cells; Verizon is ripping out and replacing 200,000 pieces of gear expecting to save half. 

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 5G Why Verizon thinks differently and what to do about it is a new report I wrote for STL Partners and their clients.

STL Partners, a British consulting outfit I respect, commissioned me to ask why. That report is now out. If you're a client, download it here. If not, and corporate priced research is interesting to you, ask me to introduce you to one of the principals.

It was fascinating work because the answers aren't obvious. Lowell McAdam's company is spending $20B to cover 30M+ homes in the first stage. The progress in low & mid-band, both "4G" and "5G," has been remarkable. In most territories, millimeter wave will not be necessary to meet expected demand.

McAdam sees a little further. mmWave has 3-4X the capacity of low and mid-band. He sees an enormous marketing advantage: unlimited services, even less congestion, reputation as the best network. Verizon testing found mmWave rate/reach was twice what had been estimated. All prior cost estimates need revision.

My take: even if mmWave doesn't fit in your current budget, telcos should expand trials and training to be ready as things change. The new cost estimates may be low enough to change your mind.