Reliance Jio Set to Jolt India's Telecom Sector Addressing the stakeholders at the 42nd annual general meeting of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani made a long-awaited announcement – the official launch of the USD 20 billion Reliance Jio Infocomm. Jio’s services are likely to take off on September 5, 2016. Ordinarily, in a country flooded with telecom operators, this news may not have been greeted with much enthusiasm. But Ambani’s decision to carve a niche for Reliance Jio comes with a bouquet of great offerings for the Indian telecom user. This includes free voice calls, free text messages (SMS), data at considerably low prices, among others. Here’s a look at why the Jio sensation is taking the country by storm.

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A Look At Jio’s Tariff

The highlights of the Reliance Jio’s mobile plans are the unbelievably low data charges and free voice calls. Announcing the launch, Ambani said, “The era of paying for voice calls is ending… no Jio customer will ever have to pay for voice calls again.” Jio’s offering starts from plans at INR 19 a day for the occasional user to about INR 4,999 for the high-end user and corporate needs. Tariff Plan 1 – INR 149 (Valid for 28 days) Benefit to customer:

  •         300 MB 4G data
  •         100 free SMS (both local and STD)
  •         Free unlimited voice calls (both local and STD)
  •         Free Jio app subscription (worth INR 1,250)

Tariff Plan 2 – INR 499 (Valid for 28 days) Benefit to customer:

  •         4 GB 4G data; unlimited 4G data at night
  •         8 GB JioNet Wifi Hotspot access
  •         Free unlimited SMS (both local and STD)
  •         Free unlimited voice calls (both local and STD)
  •         Free Jio app subscription (worth INR 1,250)

Tariff Plan 3 – INR 999 (Valid for 28 days) Benefit to customer:

  •         10 GB 4G data; unlimited 4G data at night
  •         20 GB JioNet Wifi Hotspot access
  •         Free unlimited SMS (both local and STD)
  •         Free unlimited voice calls (both local and STD)
  •         Free Jio app subscription (worth INR 1,250)

Tariff Plan 4 – INR 1,499 (Valid for 28 days) Benefit to customer:

  •         20 GB 4G data; unlimited 4G data at night
  •         40 GB JioNet Wifi Hotspot access
  •         Free unlimited SMS (both local and STD)
  •         Free unlimited voice calls (both local and STD)
  •         Free Jio app subscription (worth INR 1,250)

Tariff Plan 5 – INR 2,499 (Valid for 28 days) Benefit to customer:

  •         35 GB 4G data; unlimited 4G data at night
  •         70 GB JioNet Wifi Hotspot access
  •         Free unlimited SMS (both local and STD)
  •         Free unlimited voice calls (both local and STD)
  •         Free Jio app subscription (worth INR 1,250)

Tariff Plan 6 – INR 3,999 (Valid for 28 days) Benefit to customer:

  •         60 GB 4G data; unlimited 4G data at night
  •         120 GB JioNet Wifi Hotspot access
  •         Free unlimited SMS (both local and STD)
  •         Free unlimited voice calls (both local and STD)
  •         Free Jio app subscription (worth INR 1,250)

Tariff Plan 7 – INR 4,999 (Valid for 28 days) Benefit to customer:

  •         75 GB 4G data; unlimited 4G data at night
  •         150 GB JioNet Wifi Hotspot access
  •         Free unlimited SMS (both local and STD)
  •         Free unlimited voice calls (both local and STD)
  •         Free Jio app subscription (worth INR 1,250)

This introductory scheme, also called ‘Welcome Offer’, is available till 31 December, 2016.

Price War In The Offing

From the looks of it, the Great Indian Telecom price war is back. India’s telecom space has always been highly price sensitive; and this fine balance is quite understandable in a country with over a billion mobile subscribers, a third of who access the Internet through their mobile phones. Reliance Jio’s cheap pricing and the network’s pan India presence are a major bid at wooing mobile users across India, and it is highly likely that major telecom players (those in the 4G space) such as Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea are soon likely to slash their own tariffs. Reliance Jio has a goal of signing up 100 million subscribers in the months to come. This means a great breach in the customer base of existing operators, who will also not let go without a fight. While it seems certain that the Indian mobile user will be the ultimate beneficiary, but this may not be all good news for the telecom industry. The debt burden of the industry as a whole is currently estimated to be about INR 35,000 crore and the government has announced a new round of airwave auctions to come up in a month’s time. It remains to be seen which of the major operators remain stable in the months to come, and which flounder under the pressure. Apart from pricing, data connectivity speeds are also likely to be a major distinguishing factor. On 31 August, 2016, Airtel announced the launch of “carrier aggregation” technology, which will allow its data connectivity to remain more stable and achieve greater speeds. Airtel claims that its 4G users will be able to achieve peak download speeds of about 135 Mbps. This matches Jio’s claims for peak download speed, but Jio’s initial trials have not supported this claim.

Is Jio For Real?

Since Ambani’s announcement, there has been one question on everyone’s mind  – ‘Is Jio for real?’ Loosely translated, this means, is the low tariff here to stay. For now, Reliance Jio intends for the tariff structure to remain unchanged till January 2017. The service quality for the current offering is high, say industry experts. It remains to be seen if Reliance is capable of maintaining both the low pricing and superlative services. It is also possible that there may be some change in tariff post January. Also, this introduction of a low price bonanza may immediately attract low average revenue providing customers, who remain very sensitive to any price change. The high average revenue providing customers are very likely to wait and watch before switching. Jio’s success will depend on wooing this customer base.

How To Get A New Reliance Jio Connection?

Reliance Jio SIM cards are available at all Reliance Digital and Reliance Dx Mini stores and even with a number of trade outlets.  To obtain a connection you will need to fill out a form and provide a valid identity and address proof along with a photo.  The SIM is available only to those who buy a LYF 4G smartphone (priced between INR 2,999 and 19,999). Reliance Jio is also available to those who own 4G smartphones (select handsets) that support LTE. Customers can use the MNP and port into the Reliance Jio network on or after 5 September, 2016.

What Sets Reliance Jio Apart?

Reliance Jio offers a number of perks and advantages and may even determine customer choice –

  • Free voice calling anywhere in India
  • No domestic roaming charges (that is, no roaming charges within India)
  • 4G LTE data on Jio network priced at a tenth of existing tariff with other operators – as low as INR 50 per GB
  • 25 percent extra data to students (on producing valid ID cards)
  • Free SIM cards for those who have 4G smartphones or buy Lyf 4G smartphones (starting as low as INR 2,999)
  • Download speeds of up to 135 Mbps (not currently provided by any other operator)
  • No ‘blackout days’; free SMS is applicable on all holidays.

Reliance Jio Races Ahead

In 2010, Ambani acquired the 2300 Mhz band 4G spectrum that allowed Reliance a pan-India presence. While technical issues continued to delay the launch, Ambani kept up by acquiring the 800 MHz and 1800 Mhz spectra too. By December 2015, Jio offered its employees and their families a preview of its offerings. They were given free 4G SIM cards and Lyf handsets at a discounted price with free voice and data availability. Even though the official launch is later this week, Reliance Jio claims it already has about 2 million users spread across 18,000 cities and towns and 2 lakh villages in the country. What is certain is the fact that Reliance intends to be the market leader. Not only does the company plan to set up 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, it also plans to acquire 100 million users in the initial phase itself. Bharati Airtel, India’s telecom market leader, currently has 256 million users. Soon, Jio will own 90 percent of the telecom market in the country, claims Ambani. It remains to be seen if Jio shall walk the talk.

 

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