Of the many things I have written on policy and regulation, there have to be a few that I regret, or were outright wrong. Sometime in 1999 or 2000, TERI asked me to write something about telecos in the developing countries getting into other businesses. Based on some earlier work–Regional Telephone Holding Companies: Structures, Affiliate Transactions, and Regulatory Options, NRRI 93-05 (Rosenberg, E. A, Borrows, J.D., Hunt, C.E, and Samarajiva, R.). Columbus OH: National Regulatory Research Institute–I said regulators should prevent this or at least ring-fence the regulated operations because otherwise they would not be able to implement price regulation in some form. Now in the context of everything running through digital platforms that sounds silly.
Amazon was shaping to be an everything company without ever getting a telecom license. India’s Reliance Jio is doing it fast, with a telecom license. Time we work on some solutions for the inevitable problems that will emerge:
Ambani dominates a dizzying array of sectors: Jio is India’s leading telecoms carrier, Reliance Retail Limited is its top brick-and-mortar retailer, Reliance’s Network18 Media & Investments Limited is one of its biggest news networks, and Reliance’s Jamnagar is its largest oil complex.
His empire also produces films at Jio Studios and runs India’s top soccer tournament, the Indian Super League.
By providing Indian consumers access to everything from groceries and clothes to banking and home automation via an integrated system running through Jio, Ambani hopes Reliance can become what he calls an “everything company.”