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India's Jio says it has rolled out 5G to over 100 cities in 100 days

Jio Platforms said on Wednesday it has rolled out 5G to 101 cities in just as many days as the Indian telecom giant looks to court customers aggressively with faster data speeds.

The firm said on Wednesday that its 5G network is now live across at least one city each in 18 Indian states. Bharti Airtel, Jio Platform’s chief rival in India, in comparison has extended 5G to about 30 cities, it said earlier Wednesday.

India, the world's second largest wireless market, was one of the last nations to adopt 5G. The government generated about $19 billion from auctioning the spectrum. Reliance spent over $11 billion to buy more 5G airwaves spectrum from the government than any other telecom player in the country in August last year.

Jio Platforms, part of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, is making a $25 billion bet to bring 5G to “every town” in the South Asian market by the end of 2023.

A lot is banking on 5G for Reliance. The company last year unveiled the AirFiber, a wireless plug-and-play 5G hotspot that doesn't require fiber cables to reach homes in a move to take further share away from the fiber broadband industry.

Faster data access has become a key differentiator for telecom networks in India to lure customers away from their rivals, analysts say. Reliance entered the telecom market seven years ago and now commands the lion's share, thanks to it being early with the rollout of 4G -- and cut-rate cheap data and free voice calls offerings.

"With such high expected data loads, Indian CSPs have pinned their hope on promise of 5G, which will allow them to bring in enhancement in capacities, efficiencies in their network, increase in ARPU and at the same time open new realms of revenue streams from the 5G play," KPMG wrote in a report last year.