Free data and free voice calls can do you wonders. Just ask Reliance Jio. The new telecom operator from Indias largest industrial house has garnered over 100 million subscribers in less than six months since its launch, the countrys richest man said today.
The 4G-only LTE network has been adding more than seven new customers (average) every second to its platform for the last 170 days, RILs Mukesh Ambani said Tuesday, noting that “today is a historic day.”
In comparison, India’s oldest private carrier, Airtel, has 260 million subscribers. Vodafone, which is the second largest carrier, has over 200 million subscribers. Reliance Jio has already surpassed state-run BSNL, which had around 90 million mobile subscribers as of late last year.
Thanks to Reliance Jios free data, Ambani said, India has moved from the 150th country to the number one nation in consumption of data on mobile. Reliance Jio users are consuming over one billion gigabyte of data in a month, Ambani claimed. No technology company, service, or anything has grown at this rate, he said.
But things are about to change. Though voice calls will remain free on Reliance Jio after its “New Year Welcome” offer expires at the end of next month, the free data charm is going away. Starting April 1, all new subscribers and over 100 million existing users will have to pay for the data they are consuming. Reliance isn’t completely doing away with its free offerings, however.
Ambani said that moving forward, Reliance Jio will not only match the best deal offered by any of the incumbent carriers, but will also offer 20 percent more data for the same price. Additionally, Reliance Jio has announced an annual “Prime” membership for its existing customers and anyone who joins the network before April 1. The membership costs Rs 99 ($1.5) for a year.
Subscribers who enrol themselves into the Prime membership will be able to enjoy the “Reliance Jio New Year Offer” for another 12 months at Rs 303 ($4.5) a month. As part of the New Year Offer, which Reliance Jio announced in December last year, the company offers its subscribers 1GB of data each day, and access to a bouquet of content services (Jio Music, Jio Cinema, Jio Mags, Jio Live TV).
Despite this, however, it could be a hard sell for Reliance Jio to convince its subscribers to stick to its network. According to many analysts we have spoken to over the past few months, Reliance Jio will struggle in retaining its existing customers once it starts charging for data.
“Jio is aware that as soon as the service becomes chargeable and the ‘free’ tag is off, there will be a good churn brining down their revenue potential,” FaisalKawoosa, an analyst at Cyber Media Research told Mashable India, adding that the company had to make a conscious call between “making large fat subscriber base and realising the expected potential of revenues.”
Now with the free lure going away, Kawoosa believes India will see a fair level play field between all the existing telecom players.
This will be the moment of truth for Jio, which has faced quality issues since the beginning with users complaining about not being able to make calls to other networks and falling internet speeds. It remains to be seen how many of Jio’s 100 million existing subscribers continue to use its service once the free period lapses on April 1.
Chandigarh is a beautiful & very well planned city but for some reason both Airtel 4G, Reliance Jio internet speeds are just too slow here!
Ranjit (@geekyranjit) February 15, 2017