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Reliance Jio's success in democratising 4G Internet in India and upending the telecom industry has earned Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani the top spot in Forbes' 2017 list of Global Game Changers. Ambani said to the publication, "Anything and everything that can go digital is going digital. India cannot afford to be left behind."
With this seemingly as the motivation, he launched Reliance Jio September 2016 and has provided free or ultra-low cost 4G Internet to consumers across the country, making information flow easier, and made India among the top data consuming countries within months. Now that the mobile Internet market has been upended dramatically, next seems to be the turn of wired broadband sector as Reliance Jio broadband service is being tested in several cities. Jio is also the biggest provider of broadband Internet connections (those with speeds of 512kbps or higher speed) in India just with its 4G mobile service.
Referring to Reliance Jio, Forbes writes, "Bringing the Internet to India's masses. Oil and gas tycoon entered the country's telecom market with a bang, offering fast Internet at dirt-cheap prices. Gained 100 million customers in six months and set off a wave of consolidation in the market."
The Forbes list includes a total of 25 "intrepid business leaders" who are "unsatisfied with the status quo" and "transforming their industries and changing the lives of billions of people around the globe." Others from the technology space in the Forbes list include Mobileye co-founders Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua (second), Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield (third), Stripe co-founders John and Patrick Collinson (fourth), Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes (sixth), and TransferWise co-founders Taavet Hinrikus Kristo Kaarmann (ninth). Following them in the list are Twilio founder Jeff Lawson (12), Valve co-founder Gabe Newell (14), Lens Technology founder Zhou Qunfei (16), Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel (20), and Didi Chuxing founder Cheng Wei (23).
Reliance Jio offered free data, calls, messages and content for six months after launching operations, but has, since April, made its Internet services and SMSs paid, albeit at very nominal rates. The company compelled rivals to match its own prices, triggering an intense price war that has resulted in incumbents losing profits, while consumers enjoy data at lowest-ever tariffs.
The entry of Jio in the market has led to a round of consolidations, with Vodafone and Idea announcing a merger that will create the country's biggest telecom operator. On the other hand, Airtel has taken over Telenor's operations, and Reliance Communications has acquired Aircel. Both the consolidation and the price are expected to continue in the telecom industry.