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AP FiberNet: What Chandrababu did for AP, Ambani did for Reliance

When N. Chandrababu Naidu was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, he gave shape to the AP Fiber Grid Project and created the AP State Fibernet Limited (APSFL) in 2015. The aim of this project was to provide affordable and high-speed broadband connectivity to households, deepening the reach of internet to rural areas and promoting digital inclusiveness. 
 
Besides being the first of its kind project to provide triple-play services at an affordable price of Rs. 149 per month, the work for laying the optic fibre for 24,000 km was completed in a record duration of 9 months. Interestingly, by utilising the existing 3.7 lakh electricity poles, the state government has been able to bring down the cost to Rs. 328 crore, which is 10 times less than the cost that would be incurred for an underground cable network. 
 
By connecting 5.8 lakh households and enterprises across all the 13 districts of the state, APSFL has made internet connectivity easy. Over 2,300 schools now benefit from virtual classrooms through which nearly 8 lakh secondary school students enjoy access to the Internet. 
 
Meanwhile, the creation of APSFL has generated direct and indirect employment of around 25,000. APSFL has also provided skill enhancement training to more than 10,000 youth for their employment. Additionally, the government had also begun working on pilot projects for free public wifi at 30,000 locations in the state, in partnership with Google. 
 
Now, four years, after AP FiberNet became a reality in Andhra Pradesh, Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani announced the roll-out of Jio Fiber broadband services during the company’s 42nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) on August 12th, 2019, which is similar (but an upgraded version) to AP FiberNet that was implemented by Chandrababu Naidu.
 
Ambani said the high-speed internet service will be made available to the general public starting September 5th, 2019. Jio Fiber's name has been changed from 'Jio GigaFiber' after the company sought suggestions from Jio subscribers. 
 
The following key announcements surrounding the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service were made during the meeting:
 
  • The landline, the broadband and the set-top-box (triple-play services) would all be connected via fiber-optic cables. (As done in AP for the first time in the country)
  • The subscription to Jio Fiber will start at ₹700 a month. This is the base plan that offers 100Mbps data speed. The top-end plan for ‘power users’ is priced at ₹10,000 that offers unlimited data at speeds of 1Gbps.
  • The average fixed-line download speed in the US, the most developed economy in the world, is around 90 Mbps. Ambani then compared it to the lowest and highest plans of Jio Fiber. He also declared that the plans will come at less than one-tenth of global rates.
  • All the plans will come bundled with a landline connection, HD or 4K set top-box and access to Jio's Internet of Things (IoT). Ambani promised free voice calls for life from the fixed line connection. 
  • Jio is also bringing down the cost of international voice calling by subsidising rates and will offer offer unlimited ISD calling to US, Canada at ₹500/month.
  • Reliance also introduced a ‘disruptive concept’ of watching movies that it calls ‘Jio First Day First Show’. The service will be launched in mid-2020 and it will let Premium Jio Fiber users to watch movies through the service the next day after they are released in theatres.

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