On 25 February, during a roundtable discussion between US President Donald Trump and Indian CEOs, Mukesh Ambani rose to speak. “We’re the only network in the world which doesn’t have a single Chinese component,” the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman said. Some saw it as a facile attempt to play to Trump’s famous anti-China rhetoric. Within Reliance Jio Infocomm—RIL’s telecom subsidiary—it was seen as a sales pitch: Jio could play a part in building the next generation of US telecom networks.
And while it partnered with Samsung to build its $46 billion pan-India 4G network, its 5G project is going to be a DIY effort as its 10-year lock-in period with the Korean telecom major is set to run out in a few years.