Reliance Jio Crosses 100 Million Subscribers in India in 5 Months, Launches Jio Prime Subscription Plan
Have you heard of Reliance Jio yet? If you haven’t, Reliance Jio is a new player in the Indian telecom sector. As a mobile network operator, Jio has been creating waves in the Indian market and is responsible for ushering in the cheap data revolution since the past few months in the country.
As a primer, Reliance Jio launched publicly in early September 2016. Before this, Reliance Jio and its services were available to beta users from early January 2016. Jio is India’s only ‘VoLTE-only’ operator that provides for wireless 4G LTE without support of 2G and 3G networks.
Reliance Jio is different from Reliance Communications (RCom), another telecom operator which is currently seventh in the country in terms of subscriber base. Both Reliance Jio and Reliance Communications share their “Reliance” ancestry back to late-1990’s and early-2000’s under the leadership of business tycoon and billionaire, Dhirubhai Ambani. After Dhirubhai’s death in 2002, the entire Reliance empire that included several industries was split between two brothers: elder brother Mukesh Ambani and younger brother Anil Ambani, with Anil Ambani landing Reliance’s telecom business in his share (later rechristened to Reliance Communications).
Reliance Jio on the other hand, is the product that comes from Mukesh Ambani. “Jio” started off in 2010 when Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries bought a 96% stake in Infotel Broadband Services Limited, a firm that had managed to win broadband spectrum across India. Infotel took on the “Jio” name in early 2013. The rivalry between the billionaire brothers sets the undertone for Jio’s super-aggressive marketing campaigns and the thirst of capturing the Indian telecom sector.
Jio’s public launch in September 2016 shook the Indian telecom industry. For the first time ever, and perhaps in the history of the world too, a telecom operator was offering a truly unlimited, free and no-strings attached 4G LTE data network. Jio SIM cards were distributed free-of-cost to any and all consumers who wanted one. This SIM card allowed for free and unlimited VoLTE calls on the Jio network, free and unlimited calls across India to any other telecom operator, free and unlimited SMS, and free 4G LTE data too. The only catch was the speed throttling that came into effect after a user crossed 4GB of 4G LTE data per day. Jio wanted none of your money at that point (the free offer was valid till December 31st 2016), and it played extremely well alongside the eventual demonetization policy in India.
Jio extended the offer in the form of the “Happy New Year” offer up to March 31st 2017. The only limit that was affected was the throttling cap which was brought down to 1GB 4G LTE data per day. With the popularity of dual-SIM smartphones in the country, there simply was no downside to owning a Jio SIM card alongside your primary number. Even if you did not intend to ever pay for Jio, you could still avail all of its free services without discrimination.
This massive freebie shower has certainly benefited Jio. As per the official numbers released from the company, Reliance Jio now sits at 100 Million+ customers (“subscribers”) across its network. This number is impressive when you consider that practically all of it was achieved in a matter of less than 6 months. The company has added an average of seven subscribers every second from its launch!
This meteoric rise has pushed Jio from a non-existent entity in mid-2016 to the fourth largest telecom operator in the country right now, having leapfrogged over RCom too! For comparison, subscriber base of Verizon, USA’s largest telecom operator, stood at 144 Million at the end of Q3 2016, right around when Jio started off.
The challenge in front of Reliance Jio is now to convert these consumers into to active subscribers and paying customers. With the final date for its freeloading period fast approaching, the company has announced its subscription plan called Jio Prime. For ₹303 ($4.5) per month, the company will extend on the aforementioned “Happy New Year” offer to its existing user base. This extension can be renewed up until 31st March 2018, that is another year of free calls, SMS and 1GB 4G LTE data per day (and throttled speeds thereafter).
Reliance Jio has certainly changed the way Indian consumers look at data and its consumption. From viewing mobile data as a privilege to enjoying LTE data carelessly like the air we breathe, Jio has had a very profound impact in the Indian telecom sector on both the companies and the subscribers. While India’s other telecom operators look at different models to bring back their customers and revenue streams from Jio’s clutches, we as customers have all the reason to look forward to the competitive price wars that have been set in motion.
What are your thoughts on Reliance Jio and its new Jio Prime offer? Will it be able to successfully convert its freeloaders into paying customers? Let us know in the comments below!