Google says in cloud partnership with India’s Jio in boost to 5G plans


NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is forging a cloud partnership with India’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, helping the country’s biggest wireless carrier with tech solutions for its enterprise and consumer offerings as it plans to launch 5G services.

The tie-up lends Jio the expertise of a global tech giant as it expands digital services to small and medium businesses as well as hundreds of millions of individual customers. And it gives Google the unmatched scale of Reliance whose new-age businesses range from telecoms to e-commerce.

Jio is part of tycoon billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s oil-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries.

“It’s a broad partnership, it involves multiple pieces of Alphabet working together,” Thomas Kurian, Chief Executive Officer at Google Cloud, told Reuters in an interview ahead of Reliance’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday.

“Our own partnership spans multiple parts of Jio not just the communications business… but also health, retail and other things. And it allows us to bring our technology to many consumers in India in a broad-scale basis as well as to many businesses that are served by Reliance.”

While Google is working with other telecoms firms on 5G around the world, the scale of the Jio-Google cloud partnership is among the biggest for the California-headquartered company globally, said Kurian.

He declined to share the terms of the cloud contract with Jio.

Jio established a 10-year alliance with Microsoft Corp in 2019, aiming to build data centres across India that will be hosted on Azure cloud in a bid to offer services to the country’s booming start-up economy.

Jio disrupted India’s telecoms market in 2016 when it launched with cut-price data plans and free voice services. It forced several competitors out of the market and is now India’s biggest mobile carrier with more than 422 million customers.

Google last year invested $4.5 billion in Jio’s parent Jio Platforms, a move that landed the U.S. tech giant a rare board seat alongside rival Facebook which has also pumped $5.7 billion into the digital unit.

Ambani has previously said Jio, which also counts Qualcomm Inc and Intel Corp among its backers, would “pioneer the 5G revolution” in India in 2021.

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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