More reports on: Reliance Industries, Telecom

Reliance Jio offers free voice calls, roaming; services to start on Monday

01 September 2016

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today announced the roll-out its $20-billion telecom venture Reliance Jio from 5 September, promising free domestic voice calls and roaming while keeping data tariffs well below those of its competitors.

Mukesh AmbaniThe company will give all users free access to voice and data as a welcome offer for three months. After December, Jio customers will get all domestic voice calls, including roaming for free.

Unveiling Reliance Jio's 4G mobile network plans at Reliance Industries' 42nd annual general meeting in Mumbai today, chairman Mukesh Ambani said Reliance Jio's 4G network would cover 90 per cent of India's 1.25 billion population by March 2017 and would eventually cover 18,000 cities and 200,000 villages.

Jio has created 5 million jobs, including those at Reliance Digital stores, Ambani said, adding that Jio is based on the best quality network with highest capacity, affordable devices, compelling content and affordable tariff.

"Most incumbent networks have not built for data. They have had to retrofit to deal with data as an afterthought," Ambani said. "They are pushing unnatural act like a language translator. With Jio , digital mother tongue will be IP in natural form," Ambani said, adding that interconnectivity is still a hurdle.

"Onus on incumbent operators not to create unfair hurdles for new operators, at points of interconnect."

Last week, Jio customers had faced 50 million call failures in calls to competing networks.

Ambani also called for an easier and faster mobile number portability for customers who want to switch from other networks to Jio.

Reliance Jio's data plans start from Rs149 per month (0.3GB data) to Rs4,999 per month (75GB). There is also a Rs19 pack which gives 0.1GB. There is unlimited 4G access at night on a these plans. A special student plan gives 25 per cent more data.

The effective rate on the Jio network is 5paise per MB or Rs50 per GB. The more data you use, the lower the rate. "We have provided lowest 4G rates in the world,'' Ambani said.

Tariff plans will be limited to 10 and Jio says there won't be blackout days or extra charges on festival days.

The company is offering a slew of services, including streaming music, high-definition video streaming and digital money payments.

Content worth Rs15,000 is being given free till December 2017.

The company aims to get 100 million customers in the quickest period, Ambani told the Jio team.

Reliance Jio has been in the process of giving mobile connections on a trial basis over the past few months. Initially it had offered 4G connections to employees of Reliance Industries. The company followed this up with a scheme that allowed employees to invite ten other users.

Recently, RJio started giving connections to all those who were buying 4G enabled smartphones from select vendors, including Samsung, Intex and Videocon.

Reliance Jio now has about 3 million users already on its network, most of them availing the service for free.

RJio had acquired its telecom licence in 2005. Since then it has invested heavily into laying a hybrid network of optical fibre network and mobile towers.

Jio plans for for the future:

  • Fibre-to-home-line network at 1Gbps; multiGbps for enterprise;
  • Rs5,000 crore of venture capital for digital start-ups in India;
  • Apps for health, education and rural India

Compared to other networks, RJio will predominantly run on the fourth generation technology wherein even voice calls will be made using internet protocol.

The company has laid out over 2.5 lakh route kilometer of optical fibre. But RJio's entry has helped wake up incumbent operators, promising better times for telecom consumers.

Incumbent operators have legacy networks comprising largely of traditional switching-based 2G network. Operators like Airtel, and Vodafone, however, been ramping up their 3G and 4G network over the last one year to counter any threat from RJio.

Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have already announced a slew of initiatives over the past few months as a pre-emptive move.

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