Mukesh Ambani says the digital age will see drastic changes in the next 20 years, prompting tremendous economic potential - and India must not be left behind.

CNN Money reports, that Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, is investing $20 billion into building a mobile network that would give internet access via smartphones to one billion people - promising "lightning-fast" download speeds at highly afforodable prices. Creating it all from scratch is surely risky, but if successful, it could also mean enormous profit.

According to the Pew Research Center, only 22% of adults in India had access to the Internet in 2015, with the reason being there simply was no sufficient infrastructure (such as servers, routers, fiber optic links) to support all the customers' needs. Whatever was available, was for many people too expensive, not to mention there are many residents who aren't yet aware of the great potential internet brings.

All of this is now about to change. Ambani's new Reliance Jio service went live on Monday, offering 4G network to over 80% of India, including over 18,000 cities and 200,000 villages, while the plan is to cover 90% of the country by March 2017. At first, users will be able to enjoy free Jio until the end of this year (introductory offer includes unlimited free data and access to on-demand movie and music streaming, live TV channels, etc), and after that they will only need to pay 149 rupees ($2.25) a month. The service is 5G and 6G ready, offers the lowest data rates globally, free voice calls, special discounts for students, and many other goodies.

Competitive networks have, as expected, responded with significant price drops for their 3G and 4G services (Airtel, for example, by 80%). With the battle for consumers clearly starting, end consumers will certainly be on the receiving end.

Sept. 7, 2016 Living photo: Profimedia

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