Set to launch its pan-India 4G datacom services under "Jio" brand soon, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries has assigned its retail arm the mandate to develop the market for compatible devices and drive its growth.
"Devices are cornerstone in bringing broadband to the masses. The long-term evolution (LTE) ecosystem for devices in India is nascent," Ambani said in a letter to the Reliance Retail team, referring to the standard industry jargon for the 4G technology.
"Reliance Retail is pioneering this LTE device ecosystem, building sales and distribution channels including retail stores," the chairman said, while also announcing that his top executive Sandip Das will drive this initiative.
"To facilitate, Sandip Das will move from his role as MD (managing director) for Reliance Jio and join the board of Reliance Retail to mentor the Jio Division of Reliance Retail."
According to company sources, Ambani is attaching much importance to the 4G data telecom space and sees it as one of the major drivers of growth within the $75-billion group.
Recently, approval was secured to appoint two of Ambani's children, Yale-educated Isha and Brown University graduate Akash, on the board of directors of Relince Jio Infocomm.
Commenting on the developments, Das said he had personally sought a shift in his role to mentor the Jio initiative of Reliance Industries.
"It will take the resources, deep conviction and substantial expertise of Reliance to build an LTE device ecosystem to a level similar to the availability of 3G devices," said Das, who has been associated with a host of Indian and global telecom firms in the past.
"As Reliance Retail is building electronic goods sales stores and channels to pioneer and dominate this ecosystem, it will be a wonderful challenge for me to mentor this."
As per data with the watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, India's total telecom subscribers base as on Dec 1 last year, including multiple users, was around 965 million, while the broadband base was around 82 million.
The country is seen as the next big market for telecom after saturation in the US and China.
According to industry experts, at present the 4G devices market in India is marginal. But it is expected to be around 5-10 million handsets in the financial year 2015-16.