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Facebook Takes $5.7B Stake in India’s Jio (wsj.com)
193 points by JumpCrisscross 45 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments



This is bad.

One executive at Jio already confirmed they use DPI to monitor traffic on their networks, and their apps, be it their MyJio, JioTV, JioNews, etc. ask for almost every permission there is.

Also, it looks like the Zuck hasn't given up on his internet.org thing yet. He failed the first time, might as well join hands with a person who literally is the Government in India.

Can't switch to Idea because they were hacked by the NSA and they're about to go bankrupt, so I guess long live the Jio-Airtel duopoly!


>One executive at Jio already confirmed they use DPI to monitor traffic on their networks,

Most ISP's worldwide do this, with varying levels of competency. Some provide the data for advertising, others use it for providing specific features/packs/traffic control.

Not excusing Jio, but I'm quite certain AirTel does this too (they had Sandvine many years ago), and other ISP's have trialed this technology in India as well.


> a person who literally is the Government in India

Out of the loop: can you clarify what you mean by this?


It's mainly due to his disregard for any rules that may exist.

The telecom regulator in India bent rules in favor of Jio: https://m.economictimes.com/news/economy/policy/vodafone-gro...

Rs 11,000-Crore ONGC (state owned oil and gas corp) Gas Shifted to Reliance Industries Fields: https://www.ndtv.com/business/rs-11-000-crore-ongc-gas-shift...

They literally took out full-page advertisements with Modi's image on it: https://thewire.in/economy/modi-reliance-jio-advertisement


You are over-blowing his control: My quick search brings following two things which is opposite to what this thread is claiming.

1. Reliance Jio may not be pleased with govt's spectrum moratorium to telcos: https://www.businesstoday.in/sectors/telecom/why-reliance-ji...

2. India Trying to Stop Reliance From Selling Assets, Times Says: https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/india-trying-to-stop...


Telecoms in India are in a tremendous amount of debt. So much so, Vodafone and Idea had to merge but still they have immense financial problems. They are asking for the moratorium because Jio gave away their services for free, undercutting every player there is and the telecom regulator did nothing about it. WRT your first link, it was posted on November 21, 2019. This year the Supreme Court ordered the telecoms to pay their dues: https://m.economictimes.com/industry/telecom/telecom-news/sc...

As to your second link (Dec 23, 2019), yes, the Govt. did try to stop the 20% sale to Aramco, but "Aramco officials and bankers on the deal have been working at Reliance’s offices in Mumbai" says otherwise: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-18/reliance-...


Regarding telcos dues, AFAIK those companies have been avoiding the dues for decades and they must be held accountable some day isn't it? I can't comment on whether or not TRI should have intervened when JIO started offering free services - if it was allowed as per the regulation intervening by TRI could have given a message that it was acting for protecting existing players and if it wasn't allowed by regulations, Telcos would have gone to court.

Regarding the on-going talks of selling asset, since court has already ordered Reliance to reveal assets, they just can't do away with whatever is the liability set. Indian court system is not a joke.

My original point was that Reliance or Mukesh do not rule India; yes they are clever and do lobbying as any other capitalist does but they don't control the nation or gov.


You should really read into how Jio got their license and rules were repeatedly bent to favor them.

https://caravanmagazine.in/reportage/government-helping-reli...


It was on the TV too everywhere. All the damn time.


> The telecom regulator in India bent rules in favor of Jio

It's the Vodafone group CEO that's accusing TRAI of favoring Jio. They had a free run charging exorbitant data prices for a good time. No wonder these accusations are coming from Vodafone.

> Rs 11,000-Crore ONGC (state owned oil and gas corp) Gas Shifted to Reliance Industries Fields

This was fought in courts and eventually an international tribunal favored Jio.

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/govt-moves-delhi-h...

https://www.businesstoday.in/current/corporate/big-victory-f...

> They literally took out full-page advertisements with Modi's image on it..

What does this even mean? Even PayTm issued full page ads with Modi's image. Are they running the government too?


Honestly, Vodafone should be calling out Jio- they’re going to die because of it.

Jio has had some eye opening advantages-

Jio abused the stress test period for their network and essentially launched their service for free saying “join Jio, next few months free! (Fine print, this is technically a stress test.)

The way the auction for spectrum was conducted was magical- they had a front company With impressive bureaucracy wrangling power.

The stench of malfeasance is strong here.

That said fundamentally this is an issue that relates to the death of competition in the market.

Since the bungled SC auction verdict destroyed a vibrant telecom market, we’ve dropped to a triopoly- and heading fast to a duopoly.

What is sad is that the previous governments had done a truly impressive job of threading the economic needle when it came to designing a telecom market with competition.

Indian telecom was a boon to its impoverished customer base. Now it’s becoming a cabal.


> What is sad is that the previous governments had done a truly impressive job of threading the economic needle when it came to designing a telecom market with competition.

I beg to differ. I do understand Jio was quite aggressive in expanding its services and TRAI should have been more vigilant. But that still doesn't prove that they were working together in order to establish a monopoly. The pre-Jio telecom market was good for the telecom companies but it was horrible for the end consumers. The data prices were simply too high.


I’m sorry, but the facts are that india has (had) a remarkable telecom sector at inception.

The reason why I say this is because it’s VERY easy for the market structure to get flubbed and become only 2 or 3 firms which “compete”. (See america- invented the Internet, didn’t get the market right.)

India has some of the lowest, if not the lowest ARPUs in the world. The Indian telecom sector invented the 0 cost phone call (you give a missed call to a phone number, people call you back with offers)

Market structure is so important - you see it how the nascent Value added services market was destroyed by Indian telcos.

Back in the day one new area of innovation was VAS- but telcos were able to dictate the profit spread to VAS firms once they realized VAS was profitable. This killed the industry.

Telecoms tend towards rent seeking behavior (American telecoms say “this is the best service we can provide”, until google fibre turns up and magically those fibre installations get executed)

Data prices being high ignores the cost of calls and of infra issues the telcos were facing.

The spectrum auctions and the subsequent Supreme Court verdict destroyed our market - and there just isn’t the kind of market and economic acumen+Political power mix which will fix the market.


> I’m sorry, but the facts are that india has (had) a remarkable telecom sector at inception.

Maybe yes. But my previous point stands. What good is the sector when millions of Indians can't afford it? (from the perspective of data rates). Also the incumbents had all the time in the world to normalize data rates. But instead they chose to cartelize the industry and kept their profits up.


Again that perspective is wrong, because India is literally among the cheapest and often the cheapest country to buy data.

https://www.cable.co.uk/mobiles/worldwide-data-pricing/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2019/03/05/the-co...

So they didn't cartelize, and only recently after the insane noise over the 3g auction which fizzled out, did we lose that market.

We've now essentially cartelized (all remaining firms raised rates in tandem), and the few players left are also teetering with Vodafone considering leaving.

This means that we will likely see Jio, and Airtel left, with BSNL constantly being denuded.

Their profits are terrible, and the debt burden because of arrears means they need a rescue, or the future situation will become - impressively - even worse.


I wasn't confident in asserting data rates were low, but I've checked and Indian data rates, along with call rates are the lowest in the world.


The comments of the guy is classic case of subtle propaganda, passing opinion as truth for the western audience.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mukesh_Ambani is the most powerful person in India. More important than the Prime minister or President. He decides who becomes the prime minister, what news people will consume, etc. He owns everything from oil refineries, infrastructure companies, telecom companies, power companies, entertainment companies, news companies etc. He is the wealthiest person in India and one of world's richest.


Mukesh Ambani once said to the son of the previous BJP PM that Congress (the previous ruling party) is his own private shop.

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/kya-congress-muke...


Well, he did openly support a Congress candidate in national elections.


I guess they mean Mukesh Ambani, who owns Jio and is the richest person in Asia, is a powerful player in Indian politics.


I believe Jack Ma is now the richest man in Asia. In fact, it’s probably really Ayatollah Khamenei :/


I somehow doubt Ayatollah Khamenei eclipsed the Saudis.


Good point!


Well Mukesh Ambani with a net worth of $50 billion, is the son of Dirubhai Ambani. Like father son too has all political parties in his pockets, be it the congress or BJP or other parties in India. Word is since Modi didnt coorperate in something with Mukesh, he literally sabotaged an alliance they had in the state of Maharashtra, to screw Modi's party over and stiched up an alliance of political rivals.


It's one thing of accusing him of cronyism. It's another to accuse him of swaying elections for political convenience.


Practically everyone would believe this story in real life. Such is the image of Mukesh Ambani in India.

He is not Warren Buffett type of billionaire, that is for sure.


Dhirubhai Ambani practiced Jugaad, something which was necessary in license permit Raj. Even average Indians understand the nuance in this and how difficult it was to conduct business in that era.


Let’s not call it jugaad. It was corruption and a lesson on how stupid laws force people to find an illegal way to do things that should be legal.

The reason reliance gets shit though is not because of corruption - Reliance is fundamentally a predatory firm.


Just a tangential story.

Few years back there was this 'news' that Mukesh Amabani's son had killed 2 person in a car accident. Now you can't find any link in any major news website

https://thewire.in/business/anant-ambani-memes-reliance-indu...


Jio's parent company is Reliance Industries which is run by the richest family in India. So the usual rich people bad is the reasoning here. In reality, all rules are applied to Jio just like they are applied to other companies. I know this because I have worked there for a while.


It means he is "literally" the government of India. What part was unclear? This is HN, where JavaScript framework enthusiasts and css programmers philosophise and are experts on everything. Don't try to make too much sense


(Let's assume)

You have followed US policy making, lobbying and stuff like how a coccus of ultra rich people/execs are actually running the Govt from behind the curtain and all that. So when you read all that that usually means the groups do that to different parties i.e maybe one group does that to the republicans and another to the democrats.

(Now enter India)

This guy alone pretty much controls the Govt of India and its decisions irrespective of the party, more so with this current right wing Govt (they are like family).

If you read a bit, there are Govt decisions that look like this:

Let's say there are couple of shops in a village. One of those is billionaire's shop. This is a very famous village market among neighbouring villages. Business is good, especially at night (some famous fair/shrine or whatever). There's the huge high central light in the village square - this is the only light that keeps the market area lit. Now the village head decides he needs to shift the light to a better location so that it will be used even better, especially for the nightly shopping. Fair. Great idea! So he makes a declaration that the village assembly has taken an unanimous decision to move the light to the inside of billionaire's shop so that it is better for the villagers and all the shop keepers in the village. And the best part is the villagers cheer this decision and run after anyone who even has a doubt about this decision let alone an objection.

However if the next time this right wing Govt loses (which seems highly unlikely the way this party/Govt has consolidated power) he might be in trouble but I doubt that would be something he can't handle or hasn't handled before.


Sonia Gandhi literally uses Reliance Jets for her personal sojourns. You are dreaming if you think Mukesh Ambani and Congress are antithetical, in fact funnily i would argue he is closer to the Congress dispensation than BJP.


Where did OP say anything about Congress vs Ambani?

At best he hinted that Ambani is closer to Modi which is not that unexpected. Of course, no government has ever been 'unfriendly' to Ambani. They are all benefiting from one another.


Ambani is losing his wealth and person who benefited the most during this time is Adani who is going to surpass ambani in wealth.


The same old tired Illuminati/Soros/<Generic Rich Businessman owning the government> spiel repeated in all the countries across the globe.


Airtel isn't good either. There are no real options anymore. Bsnl is terrible where I live. For a lot of people, that's a reality. They can't move.


There's BSNL. Their 4G services are currently better than Jio and Airtel in my city. And they provide better connectivity in rural and remote areas.


BSNL is about to go bankrupt as well.

They were offered the 4G spectrum at 2016 prices but even then they couldn't pay their employees' salaries anymore so the Govt. had to step in to pay for their voluntary retirement scheme, which 78,000/50% of their employees opted for.


Won't happen, even if Ambani's and others are lobbying for it. BSNL is required for secure government and military communication.

statguy 45 days ago [flagged]

and Ambani owns the govt...

Fiveplus 45 days ago [flagged]

Ambani owns jack shit. These kind of low denominator strawmans do not lead to a healthy discussion. Please keep it to yourself or go to a community that welcomes it.


I will give you a datapoint, among many. The Indian govt. recently awarded a critical contract for modernizing the Indian Air Force to a company owned by Anil Ambani who is the brother of Mukesh Ambani, owner of Jio. The Anil Ambani (who has since declared bankruptcy) company had zero experience in defence or aeronautics, yet it was chosen over India's state owned HAL which has decades of aeronautical expertise.


This is incorrect. You are mixing two separate (but related) things.

Under the terms of the original Rafale deal[1], HAL was supposed to manufacture/assemble Rafale aircraft in India. This deal never materialized.

A new deal was made under whose terms, Dassault and others were to supply 36 Rafale aircraft in fly-away condition in return to which, they were to invest 50% of the cost of the deal (or about €3.9 billion) back in India, under an offset clause.

Of this €3.9 billion, €100 million was awarded [2] to Dassault Reliance Aviation limited as an offset contract to manufacture components for a passenger aircraft (Dassault Falcon 2000). This was a decision by Dassault, not the Government of India.

There were about 30 offset partners among which Reliance was one. This contract was worth about 3% of the entire investment under the offset clause.

So Reliance was not "chosen over" HAL.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_MRCA_competition

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafale_deal_controversy


All the petitions regarding wrongdoings in the deal were dismissed by the Supreme Court. The reason cited was that it was not the government who was responsible to choose an Indian partner for the “offset clause” of the deal, it was Dassault who entered into a JV with Anil Ambani’s company.


>The reason cited was that it was not the government who was responsible to choose an Indian partner for the “offset clause” of the deal, it was Dassault who entered into a JV with Anil Ambani’s company.

Because the Indian govt. forced Dassault to deal with Ambani. We know this because the French President literally said so.

“We did not have a say in this,” Mediapart quoted Mr Hollande saying. “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us.”

https://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-p...

https://www.ft.com/content/4e95c46c-bdb6-11e8-94b2-17176fbf9...


That's false. Anil Ambani's firm was chosen as an offset partner by Dassault, not by the Government. HAL wasn't interested in working as an offset partner.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/rafale-deal-anil-ambanis-fir...

> The Anil Ambani (who has since declared bankruptcy) company had zero experience in defence or aeronautics

The company that you are talking about came into existence after Anil Ambani got stake in Pipavav Defense who already had experience working with Indian navy[1]. Anil Ambani's company has also signed an agreement with US Navy to repair their seventh fleet vessels[2].

1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/pipavav-de...

2. https://www.livemint.com/Industry/VZqdl90t3NiQZHl7ccylwK/Rel...

No wonder the Supreme Court threw all these allegations right into the bin.


Anil Ambani's firm was chosen as an offset partner by Dassault, not by the Government.

"Chosen". As in forced to chose by the Indian govt. We know this because the French President literally said so in an interview.

“We did not have a say in this,” Mediapart quoted Mr Hollande saying. “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us.”

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-natio...

https://www.ft.com/content/4e95c46c-bdb6-11e8-94b2-17176fbf9...


No, chosen means "chosen" in this context. Reliance defense is only one of the many offset partners. There is a long list of them. Did the government strong-arm Dassault to go with all of them? Something tells me that Dassault will have much better things to do.

https://akm-img-a-in.tosshub.com/indiatoday/images/bodyedito...

> “We did not have a say in this,”

French government said that there was no pressure on them. In such an important matter, I am more likely to believe the government than a news agency I have never heard of.

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/rafale-deal-france-says-...


The myth of Anil Ambani unduly influencing Rafale has been debunked many times over. This was blown out of proportion by Mr. Rahul Gandhi as he wanted an easy issue for the election.


True. Our current PM Modi will dance to Ambani's tune. But killing BSNL isn't so easy ... They have lakhs of employees and with the poor state of indian economy I doubt if the government would be able to afford to pay the majority a proper severance package. Not to mention the unions and strikes they will have to deal with.


BSNL mismanagement is the output of decades of lethargy by successive Govts which prevented PSUs from becoming nimble. At least this Govt is trying even when it has limited fiscal options. This kind of extreme one sided scapegoating of PM to earn the approval of Western folks is highly condemnable.

TriNetra 45 days ago [flagged]

Please don't spread propaganda of certain elite section in India about current gov just because they have lost control of India due to their own foolish policies and insatiable greed


There aren't any subscribers, so network load. Lol once you have users start popping we will see how BSNL will hold on.


BSNL has excellent infrastructure but is stuck with the old Babu staff that grew up with switch-based telephony tech and due to poor training don't fully understand the newer IP-based tech to which BSNL has migrated. That's why when it all works, it works superb - but if you have any issues, then support takes its own time in BSNL because only the newer, younger generation staff actually know how to fix stuff in the new systems.


I have used broadband from MTNL (another state telecom operator) back in the day. I still rue those days.


Yea was suprized the fact they were only boasting about their use of DPI as if it's something to be proud about.

And consumers and TRAI were giving Jio clueless looks or even cheering them.


Think I missed the hacked by NSA part. Can you elaborate please?


>who literally is the Government in India. Don't agree with that. Ambani is a Congress (opposition party) sympathiser and openly backed their Candidate in recently concluded elections. Agreed that capitalists are above politics, but what you saying "literally is the Government in India" is over enthusiastic and generic without bringing substantial reference. Remember his brother is almost bankrupt despite support from current and previous Governments. And BJP, the ruling party have made several rival entrepreneurs their patrons (Adani). Also since the economy grew substantially in modern times and donations are much more widely spread out, the political parties are not answerable to few handful Capitalists who have their own way unlike in the 80's politics. Ultra rich may have their say in policy decisions (lobbying), but it's an overkill to state they run the country.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/elections/lok-sabh...


So Facebook paid 5.7 billion dollar to buy "influence" in India. The biggest influencer of India is Mukesh Ambani who has strong influence in Indian politics. Now it will be a matter of months and WhatsApp payments will get regulatory approval to go ahead to launch WhatsApp payments in India. That is the boss move here IMO. Jio is just a way to solve for regulatory hurdles in India.


Jumping the gun here. Jio's founder, Ambani has his own ambitions in this space and he is highly unlikely to carry water for FB. This is akin to saying when Microsoft took a stake in Apple that they would carry water for Apple.

They are frenemies at best and outright competitors. FB gets to deploy its cash hoard into a relatively safe and perhaps lucrative investment and buy some insurance to being treated fairly on Jio's platform.


So no solace, because it's even worse. Jio is a bigger danger than FB to us Indians, we just don’t seem to realize/care (as in being an information monopoly). I don’t think even Jio realizes it. They may believe that they are doing God’s service in providing affordable 21st century services to the masses. But that’s how the really bad stuff usually starts.


Twice Mukesh Ambani has built telecom services that have lowered prices by an order of magnitude and greatly expanded coverage. Reliance Communications which Anil ran into the ground was built by Mukesh and changed the competitive landscape the first time around. Jio did it again and now India has the cheapest data in the world.

I am struggling to understand what exactly is the problem and why is Jio a danger? Because in the future they might become some unknown danger to morals and economic well being of Indians/humanity. Crush freedom in some inexplicable way that you cannot imagine but are sure they will. I am genuinely curious.


I am not sure why I am biting this, but here goes: If you are the only Internet people know and can afford, it doesn't matter if you are a private entity or the Govt.

I can't satisfy your curiosity because I too also sincerely don't know what flavor of undesirable behavior a monopoly creates but that they create bad behavior is as intuitive to me as is breathing to anyone else.

A first person anecodote which doesn't necessarily further my point but still - I had Jio fiber installed for a relative, I was visiting in a small north Indian town - unbelievable price, offering, everything great. But it took me 3 days of multiple hours on the phone, and I still couldn't access Hackernews, or reddit or even New York Times. Pages for these and quite a few other sites just wouldn't load. The first canned response - 'Reliance only blocks what the Govt. has told it to block' (paraphrasing). I didn't anymore have the energy to analyze if it was a technical problem, casual censorship or just customer service issues because of fast scaling.


> If you are the only Internet people know and can afford, it doesn't matter if you are a private entity or the Govt.

The only thing worse than a monopoly is the non existence of the particular service.

Before Jio, reasonable speed Internet was non existent in rural India. The plans were priced so high that using Opera Mini with cloud compression was a reasonable decision, to save on data cost. I used to switch off 3G to ensure data doesn't get all consumed.

> But it took me 3 days of multiple hours on the phone, and I still couldn't access Hackernews, or reddit or even New York Times.

What do you mean by "not load"? Are you sure this was not something unrelated to Jio?


"not load" - nothing happens and eventually connection timed out (unfortunately I don't have exact recollection if there was a message or just nothing happened). But I did research it and closest evidence I found that this was not a technical issue but deliberate blocking was from some discussion on Center for Internet Security: https://cis-india.org/internet-governance/blog/reliance-jio-...


Lets assume it was them. So they are a danger to society because they have a bad offering. Switch to another provider.

You seem to be saying there is none so they are a defacto monopoly. And they have a substandard offering so they should not be allowed to offer one.


as opposed to what, no cheap internet ? As compared to which comparable country, China ? Where literally the Govt controls everything.

I appreciate the enthusiasm for privacy and all, however the priorities for Indian citizens is having a cheap, reliable internet service that becomes a backbone of the modern economy.

Now i am not defending any business practices here, however you will be hard pressed to find something as succesful anywhere else in the world which is not politicized with currying of influence and favors. That is essentially the nature of an industry which has become a utility.

People are free to educate themselves and use alternatives based on their understanding.


Agreed - a primer for people interested in the Indian telecom story:

Indian telecom had one terrible moment which ended a near dream run for consumers.

Prior to the SC auction verdict we had a huge amount of competition.

Getting telecom market structure right is a hard thing to do, because there are always people working hard to pervert the system.

America has an auction where famously, telcos his the PIN codes for the areas they wanted in the auction bids.

This verdict ensured that many firms pulled out and significant market consolidation took place, till we went from a multitude of firms to 3 + BSNl.

At the point you have three firms, you have cartel behavior.

Then came yet another SC verdict which was devastating (arrears due to the govts was based on total profits, not just on spectrum related profits.)

This is why they were asking for help.

And finally Jio. Jio is doing a perfect job competing in its full throated style to end at least one of the debt burdened and teetering competition.

Sadly they also oppose net neutrality, and have had some amazing shenanigans ignored entirely by the regulator.

It’s not a good time for Indian telecom consumers.


> So no solace, because it's even worse. Jio is a bigger danger than FB to us Indians..

Write for yourself. Jio has destroyed the cartel that ensured high mobile prices for a long time in the country. It's because of their efforts that millions of Indians are connected to the Internet today and could only dream about it a decade back.


WhatsApp payments already had regulatory approval before this deal.


Right, since FB cannot move itself the (likely) billion dollar bribes to Gov Official's Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_in_India#Bribery


Why it can't? Why do you think Govt is always corrupt? Why judge current govt based on corruption done in previous regimes?


in fact arguably this is the first time in Indian history where i believe the people at the top are not corrupt to the extent previous Govts were (coalition politics !). The middle and low level corruption is slowly reducing as we move to more tech enabled services and transparency is a feature although it can never be eliminated, people find a way. However as the new generation in rural areas start using mobile phones with data and access services like banking online i can see a sea change. I saw farmers taking pics of their cultivations and uploading to Govt websites for availing subsidy in Karnataka. Now they had to pay 10% of the subsidy amount in cash beforehand to their local officer, but i still consider this a win and improvement. The primary reason this happened , digitization and a strong push for it.


This is totally true. Just lobby the biggest business instead of the government who didn’t bend for you.


For those who don't know - Mukesh Ambani is the 3rd richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $60B.


He lost a lot of net worth in 2020. Regardless, he wasn’t 3rd richest before either. He’s 2nd richest Asian. Also just below Mackenzie Bezos.


Mark Zuckerberg in his FB post:

There's a lot going on in the world right now, but I wanted to share an update on our work in India. Facebook is teaming up with Jio Platforms -- we're making a financial investment, and more than that, we're committing to work together on some major projects that will open up commerce opportunities for people across India.

India is home to the largest communities on Facebook and WhatsApp, and a lot of talented entrepreneurs. The country is in the middle of a major digital transformation and organizations like Jio have played a big part in getting hundreds of millions of Indian people and small businesses online.

This is especially important right now, because small businesses are the core of every economy and they need our support. India has more than 60 million small businesses and millions of people rely on them for jobs. With communities around the world in lockdown, many of these entrepreneurs need digital tools they can rely on to find and communicate with customers and grow their businesses. This is something we can help with -- and that's why we're partnering with Jio to help people and businesses in India create new opportunities.

I want to thank Mukesh Ambani and the entire Jio team for their partnership. We're looking forward to getting started.

https://www.facebook.com/zuck


This isn’t a good thing for India’s Digital Transformation.


I'll take a contrarian view. This is good! All investment into India is good. (Yes even Chinese investment.) We are a poor capital starved country. We need every bit of cash we can get and that $5.7B will generate employment and create another strong telecom player. I strongly supported net neutrality in 2016 in India, but circumstances have changed. Jio needs the money, as does India. The poor cannot afford principles.


I'm partially with you - this maybe good.

But saying all investment (special reference to China ones) is good, is taking it too far. It is already proven that China is new financial colonist [1] [2], infact last week India Govt passed a notice that any investment from China would be scrutinised.[3]

[1] https://www.ft.com/content/186743b8-bb25-11e8-94b2-17176fbf9...

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2018/08/04/c...

[3] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/ind...


The anti-china propaganda is so self-unaware. In a post about Zuckerburg investing $5.7 billion, china is the "financial colonist". The saddest aspect of the anti-china propagandist is that they are actually arguing china's point. China limits foreign investment precisely because of "financial colonialism". So you are in fact praising china and saying india should be like china. Almost all of the world's FDI is non-chinese. Most of the world's FDI is from europe.


It can't colonise India we've nukes.

Russia/Austrlia/Malaysia and Thailand have free trade agreement with China and they've not been colonised yet.

India is a big enough power to negotiate better deals with China.

So the fear of china is unwarranted.

Furthermore, there is a paper by Indian institute of foreign trade where the assert that imposition of trade barriers on china has reduced GMV of India.

What best you can do now is to partner with china and bring them into your market, learn tricks and techniques of manufacturing and become a global leader.


CHinese investment should be taken on a case by case basis. We do not want them controlling influence by turbocharging certain apps/networks/companies they own. I am sure if you have significant Chinese money on board a valuable app, you will start seeing CCP influence sooner or later.

There was no reason why India could not create its home grown TikTok, WhatsApp , Twitter etc.


Remember what Mukesh ambani said. DATA is new oil. He asked govt to keep data in India from companies like Facebook. Now this boom lol


In an era of reverse globalization, i feel homegrown billionares and/or Govt controlling Indian data might be better than Chinese or American companies. Also i think India has the talent to build what our audiences need so we are not in the same boat as say some hypothetical small African country which does not have an option. The Indian market size will make a difference.


Poor will always seek temporary security and relief over long term damage and starvation - me


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[flagged]


Huh?


The poor cannot afford principles

??? Really how much do you get paid to shill that hard


Could you please stop posting unsubstantive and/or flamebait comments to HN? It unfortunately looks like you've been doing that quite a bit, and it's not what this site is for.

If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and sticking to the rules when posting here, we'd be grateful.


Apologies if it comes out as such. My only intention is to make thought provoking comments


Sigh. I wish I was paid. I fall into the category of what Ambani would call useful idiots.


That was uncalled for: "the poor can not afford principles" is a fairly reasonable opinion to have.


It's an opinion, but "fairly reasonable" is very debatable.

Being poor doesn't mean a person doesn't have principles, just like being wealthy isn't correlated with having strong principles or morals.


It does not mean the poor don't have principles. They definitely do. They cannot afford to live by them, or they lose their livelihood. Indeed it is widely acknowledged in academia. that the poor are much more generous per $ of income than the wealthy. (Will have to search for the reference... Will edit it into the comment later.)


>Indeed it is widely acknowledged in academia. that the poor are much more generous per $ of income than the wealthy.

That seems to be saying that despite having less, the poor are exercising a far more principled life.


“Widely ack’ed in academia” That’s the problem right there. It’s a justified question to ask, does academia really know what being poor is


They aren’t saying poor people revel in their inherent immorality.

They are saying poverty forces people, against their will, to break their moral codes and principles. It’s one of the worst things about the power dynamics of money: not being able to afford an iPhone is a laughably trivial concern compared to having to work instead of spending time with your children, when you know how much of an impact your absence will have on them, for example.

I was glad to read it as a pithy and sobering comment, even if I didn’t agree with the rest of the post.


The phrase doesn't mean the poor don't have principles, it means they don't have the same luxury of making decisions purely on principle.


From that Zuckerberg statement it feels like a payment play. FB and Jio will launch a payments system possibly using their blockchain and I will also bet they will integrate deeply with whatsapp, there by cloning wechat. Right now the only payments system in India is paytm and Jio is in a great position to disrupt that. They get to give fb a shot and get a cut of the revenue if it works.


Yes, its a payment play, but not using Bitcoin. WhatsApp is trying to roll out a UPI based payment solution in India for 2 years now.

Google, on the other hand, rolled out Google Pay (Previously Tez) based on UPI platform by teaming up with major banks. Its really popular these days.


Jio already has a payments app called JioPay.


With this FB becomes largest investor in any single India tech company - so largest player in this segment.

Previously Softbank was the largest because of its $2.5B investment in Flipkart (which was India's answer to Amazon.. last year Walmart bought it and Softbank had a successful exit).


I wish government would stop these foreign investment sometimes especially into important pillars of the internet. I am okay with small startups getting investment but this is just bad. Jio is already terrible at tracking and they are the first ones to censor you when some high court cries foul.


India is a developing nation and it will have to depend on foreign investment unless zero corruption government help local business out. What is required to do that ministry keep a close eye before agreeing on such deals and afterwards like in case of internet.org initiatives.

>I am okay with small startups getting investment They can also be worst. During the period April 2015-March 2020, of the 30 Indian unicorns (companies with over $1 billion valuation), 18 were funded by Chinese companies and we all know how much china firms is controlled by their government.

What India required is: 1. Company themselves don't sellout morality for money. 2. Regulators keep a close eyes. 3. Indian citizen too make their voice heard on wrong things.


Small startups are not unicorns. Small startups don't have the ability to censor you as much as your ISP especially if all your friends and family use the same one. India's net neutrality laws are already a joke when nothing is enforced and you can't access normal sites on jio in some states. I am talking about reddit, github, and heck even stack.

What india needs is to invest in their own businesses and stop using imported goods just because they are cheap. They are cheap because their countries invested in infrastructure to make it possible while indian government continues to raise taxes on imported goods while doing nothing about the abysmal lack of infra and good education. It hinders those who need imported stuff because it's not available in india. The regulation is a joke too. We don't need more regulations than we already have. We need less but have them more strictly enforced and accessible so people can actually see stuff rather than hearing it from a lawyer who isn't updated on the issue themself


In which state GitHub cannot be accessed on Jio's network?


Ultimately those small startup into turn into unicorns


And India's fight against Facebook's walled garden, the Round 1 of which, it had won so admirably in 2016, now faces a setback. With this, and the crumbling of BSNL, a good part of India's telecom infrastrucure is now controlled by foreign players. Anyone who remembers Marc Andreesen's execrable remark on colonialism should be concerned.


Jio is building most of its 5G tech without involvement of foreign players.


That seems impossible or is 5g tech that easy? They are going to source all equipment from one or another European country at the end.


Any link(s) to read?


This is an older Guardian long read on the 2016 developments https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/12/facebook-...


Wow! Very interesting news. (Bad for us consumers ofcourse.)

Reliance Jio is focusing on vertical integration by even building and rolling out their own 5G tech (https://content.techgig.com/jio-develops-in-house-5g-tech-ai...). And I am sure they plan to expand to other countries in 5 years or so. It will be very interesting to watch how they change the telecom industry in these countries too, in the future.

Speculating because I don't know the details, but feels like Facebook got the better end of the deal - FB bought WhatsApp, a messaging platform, for $19 billion. $5.7 Billion for 10% stake in one of the largest mobile network in the world sounds a real bargain ... right?


>(Bad for us consumers ofcourse.)

explain?


- They've crippled the indian telecom industry by driving out many competitors through their anti-competitive behaviour of offering FREE services for nearly a year under the guise of "testing" their network. They were aided in this by the government who ignored the protests from the other players.

- Then they offered services for very LOW prices.

- Once the competitors were driven out, they've RAISED prices. And are now lobbying with the government to reduce inter-connection charges and to stop "Free" calls which their remaining competitors are still offering.

- They are also extremely INVASIVE in collecting data on you through their services, apps, and even deep packet inspection of your secure connections. They are also suspected of creating shadow profiles and trying to link it to real profiles by data from their other businesses (e.g. Reliance Retail stores) and also through data they purchase from data brokers.

- They lobbied AGAINST NET-NEUTRALITY and tried to offer Facebook services for free, but luckily for us failed.

- I can bet that Facebook and Jio will now SHARE DATA and use each others service more. Goodbye privacy. For ever.


This sounds like something Vodafone would write up. Jio prices now are lower than all their competitors prices were 5 years ago.

Even if Jio raised prices a little higher than they ever were, it doesn't therefore follow that the indian consumer is worse off for having the new player. And vodafone and others didn't leave the indian market. Jio isn't the only player in India. They'll always have competition that keeps them from raising prices to confiscatory rates.


India went from charging some of the costliest data plans in the world to some of the cheapest, thanks to Jio.

What exactly was holding back the hands of the entrenched players when they charged INR 10 per MB of data?


How?

India had some of the cheapest plans in the world, and the indian telecom market is famous for having the lowest if not among the lowest ARPU rates in the world.

Do you have a source or reference point for this?



I checked that, and the difference was that we went from among the cheapest internet costs in 2017, to even lower.

2017 figures and 2019 figures are significantly different if you are poor, however that doesn't mean that prices were high.

And there isn't anything like a free lunch - Reliance has achieved these costs through a variety of means, both legal and supra legal.

Their "creative" ways to abuse the network testing period for example (and the non response from the regulator), their use and harvesting of private data to inform other parts of their empire and their efforts to take over the market bode ill for India.

Remember that Net neutrality was won because we got lucky and there was enough political capital for people like Nilekani to also advocate for it through the government machinery.

However when NN 3.0 happens, Reliance will not let it pass.

With a market without competition, they will succeed - since they have to spend less effort competing and can afford their lobbying.


Low prices enabled millions of Indians to get connected to the Internet. Interest of millions of Indians will be always given precedence over interests of a bunch of companies that want to keep data prices high to ensure their profits. Please share citations for your other accusations.


Source please? Are these your opinions or do you have articles (not blogs or tweets) to support your claims?


This is a proxy move by Facebook for all the same shady motives that led to Internet.org. GoI should look into this very carefully from a long term perspective of India's internet space. Zuck can't be allowed to take hold of Jio's scale in India.


This is too much control for one company.

This is really bad for democracy.

JIO is deeply embedded into the rural populace. Exactly the ones who are vulnerable to disinformation campaigns.

And facebook just bought a key to the gates.


Exactly.

> JIO is deeply embedded into the rural populace. Exactly the ones who are vulnerable to disinformation campaigns.

This deeply concerns me as it will have unwanted consequences.


I'm sure WhatsApp is already more deeply entrenched than Jio.

This is more of a commerce play, nothing to do with disinformation dissemination.


Democracy is not about running private companies. CCI and monopoly laws should take care of that.


Does India have less free speech protections?


Imagine a rumor going around in Whatsapp.

Lets say it violates free speech laws and is liable to be sued and the one who sues is sure to win.

Lets say he sues and wins.

It still doesn't matter. Rumor about the lawsuit and the falsehood of the original content is already old news. And is not as quickly spreading as the original rumor.

The perpetrators of the original rumor win the war to influence, in-spite of free speech protections.

Free speech protections and laws mean nothing and are toothless in face of modern mass media tech.

Compare it to the old days, of the news being said on TV or Radio or in a Newspaper. They too can spread wild rumors but have definite and impactful backlash.

That negative feedback mechanism is lacking in platforms like FB and Whatsapp.


Probably but are laws real without enforcement?

I have seen few people getting beaten up badly and two dying due to mob killing them with law enforcement involved for speaking against "religious stuff" and a politician.

Just a recent thing that got some attention - https://twitter.com/ShefVaidya/status/1251818372343439361?s=...

But I assure you, this happens way more in small towns and villages.


Your Twitter reference has nothing to do with what you described above. Nice try with the rumor mill.


Very disingenuous reply, you can clearly see what happened in the video. Unconfirmed reports from different media sources (which hesitated to report this extensively for obvious reasons) indicated rumors from the fact that they were organ harvesting to that they were thieves etc.


It highlights that even with the police commissioner there, people can kill you for a rumour. So what is government enforcing if mob can take you apart for any reason they want?

If mob gets triggered by you criticising their cows or government (idk why blind patriotism is so widespread here), what would you do about your free speech if you get killed in the process with no enforcement against those who killed you or imagine a family member?

Honestly I am confused about free speech as well. Is the argument that government didn't stop you from criticising itself, just that the mob happens to kill you for it in public in the presence of the government make sense? Is that free speech?


Very less, people are routinely arrested for simple things like posting on FB on Twitter. And there is some Draconian sedition law, almost all critisim of government can be persecuted under that.

Also the freedom of speech guarantees are very watered down in comparison with the USA.


India has good free speech protections by law. In practice, there is very little tolerance.


As long as enough people submit to the "muh private company" idea, this will only get worse.


I am not sure what other options are there. Government owned companies? Because I don't see that working with [0] government censoring it's citizens and being so incompetent that it needs to have an internet shutdown all the time. Other countries face similar issues but they don't shut down the whole internet for their incompetence.

Indian government itself participates in disinformation campaigns, denies statistics coming from the outside (given india has done nothing on that front and only cut funding), practice blatant discrimination and spreads religious nonsense.

[0] https://internetshutdowns.in/

Oh and the nice bill - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Data_Protection_Bil...


Are you suggesting that we shouldn't have private companies?


No, what I think he is suggesting is that everything private companies do is defended to the extreme, just becasuse the alternative of having govt. controlled entities is undesirable.

Even I agree, there is too much worship of capitalist and free market structures.

There ought to be a good balance between free market and govt. regulations, where public interests in protected.


Yes, the people who worship capitalism are baffling, because corporate tyranny eventually becomes indistinguishable from government tyranny. For instance, if Facebook and Google became so pervasive that they could censor everything that everyone says, then our constitutional rights don't mean anything. I respect people's perspective most of the time, but I disrespect people who think that private companies have a license to do anything they want because it just doesn't seem to be a well thought out idea.

Then there are those who suddenly talk like free market capitalists when it's convenient to their politics. I see this all the time with whomever the balance of power is favoring. 15 years ago, it was conservatives who excused private companies that did things that liberals didn't like, as long as those companies appeared to align with their values or were at least agnostic, and now you'll hear liberals who otherwise hate capitalism pull out the "private company" card when it suits their goals or is an affront to the other side.

I believe very few people are actually interested in the public good. Everyone claims they want to do things for the public good. In reality, I think they all want whatever goodies they think they can get by acting as toadies for their party of choice.

There ought to be a balance between freedom and regulation, but this is increasingly becoming a minority opinion.


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What is extreme nationalist ? India is a 5000 year old civilization.

Does banning triple talaq and medieval Islamic laws count as nationalism ?

Does bringing modern 21st century laws (including women equality and inheritance laws) to a territory given special status for merely political reasons count as nationalist ?

The condescending attitude is very off putting. If you base your opinions on the international media portrayal of Indian politics i would definitely say one thing is extremely lacking: nuance, it is mostly agenda driven drivel.


1)What does being a 5000 year old civilisation warrant anything? 2)You're just cherry picking points to your favour.


>What is extreme nationalist ? India is a 5000 year old civilization.

False, India as a country only existed since British rule before there were many waring states.

>Does banning triple talaq and medieval Islamic laws count as nationalism ?

No, but imposing tariff on Chinese steel is protectionism, having Special Economic Zones when you are above $1000 GDP per capita is offering unfair subsidy and harming global trade, there are many more of these acts slowly haemorrhaging economy, automobile sector went into debt citing higher cost of inputs (steel price went up as government added duty on Chinese exports) and now that industry is raking even more debt, inflating bubble and when this bubble will pop, you'll have strong of NPAs.


Can you explain 'extreme nationalist'. Im just curious, what qualities make a person or a leader as such?


Our leader is not an extremist nationalist. Next.


This is not a way to respond on HN. Please be respectful.


May be its just me, but I think calling a democratically elected leader of the most diverse country in the world, an extremist, is more disrespectful.

kumarvvr 45 days ago [flagged]

Its a first world thing.

They can overthrow a democratically elected government in Iran, and install a dictator, wage a war against Vietnam for more than a decade, meddle with south american nations wholesale, rub hands with despots like MBS of Suadi Arabia

and then come to the oldest civilization in the world, one of the most diverse, culturally rich society that has survived 200 years of Imperialist rule, an even more years under Islamist rape and plunder and looting, and then claim the democratically leader emerging from one of the biggest and universally agreed free and fair elections as 'extremely nationalist'.

If the leader of the country reflects the average joe of that country, I would gleefully point to trump.


The BJP and the RSS are literally nationalist.


Which is exactly why it gets problematic.


Nope


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No one has problem with Hinduism. The problem is with Hindutva & bhakts.

kumarvvr 45 days ago [flagged]

No. This is a bland lie. What exactly about Hindutva dont you like?

What about Hindutva ideology do you find un acceptable?


RSS is a terrorist organisation.


Can we stop with name-calling, please?


Get Burnol.


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> You know, I would argue India is a much more functional democracy than USA at the moment. Unfortunately, it isn't because India has suddenly become more democratic. Fortunately, we are at least not committing guillotine-level crimes. For example, we don't have the biggest businesses being bailed out while 20+ million people are simultaneously unemployed.

Whataboutism does nothing but add more misery.

And why are you asking people to assassinate mark Zuckerberg...on hn. Check the guidelines please.


As an Indian, I find this scary. Govt and Jio has deep ties.


The idea that the Facebook has a direct data pipeline into Jio's 370 million subscribers and vice versa and that Jio has a direct pipeline to the Indian govt. is a very frightening thought.


Why does Zuck want India so bad? [this is rhetorical, we know the business potential] Is this some sort of ego-compensation ever since China sent him home?


Last time Zuckerberg tried there was a strong resistance from India because Facebook had money but didn't have influence. Jio/Mukesh Ambani is a very influential player in Indian politics. This gives Zuckerberg much needed regulatory capture.

Currently WhatsApp pay is facing a lot of resistance in large scale roll out. Watch that go away in a matter of weeks.


Because most indians will glady sell their data for saving up a dollar?

Inequality is a great thing and it works pretty good for ad networks as well as social media. The population hops to the cheapest solution while locking in the others with them due to the network effect.


> Because most indians will glady sell their data for saving up a dollar?

Keep it it mind that a single dollar can buy cooked meal for two persons, or major ingredients like flour rice potato etc for 3-4 persons.

Obviously not everybody is so poor in India, but World Bank defines lower middle class household as somebody earning $10-50 a day [1].

Personally, I had used Jio Sim cards, prepaid, in data dongle, but never installed any of their apps because never felt like I needed. And yes, the reason was exactly you described, best rates, about $5 for a month, for 3GB daily.

Jio is also memed as Oil (Mirror image of Jio), because Data is the New Oil.

[1]. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_India#cite_note-7


The fact that Zuckerberg and Facebook are making this bet, using the data they have, suggests that the Modi era will continue for quite a while. Ambani’s fortunes are closely tied to Modi.

This is as much a political statement as a financial one.


Ambani fared well under every govt. Can you cite what this govt has done that has been favorable to Ambani?


> Ambani’s fortunes are closely tied to Modi.

Source please? Why should i believe a new poster with such randomly typed username?





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