Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani today announced the much-awaited commercial launch of Reliance Jio telecom services, dedicating the 4G services to the nation and calling it an effort to fulfil the Digital India dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The 4G VoLTE service, even in its beta phase, has been generating a lot of user interest across the country and millions of people have already bought the Reliance Jio SIM cards for the free data during the trial period. Ambani said his goal was to acquire 100 million customers as soon as possible.
Reliance Jio services have been on a trial run for a few months now, initially being limited to employees and then to those buying a Lyf smartphone from the company. From 5 September, everyone will be able to access the service, which will still be free till the end of the year.
Voice calls, meanwhile, will never be charged on the Jio service. The data rates are also cheapest in the world, he said, announcing tariffs starting at Rs50 per GB or 5 paise per MB. The entire bouquet of apps will also be free till end of 2017.
Over the past week or so, Reliance Jio has opened the service up to people owning devices from most brands selling in India. The services are free for the first 90 days and that has been a huge driver for the adoption along with the high internet speeds in the relatively new network.
The announcement was made at the RIL annual general meeting held at Birla Matushri Sabhagar in South Mumbai today. Ambani started by talking about Jio, the ''youngest member'' of the Reliance family. He said Jio is aimed at realising Digital India dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
''Life is going digital … I believe in next 20 years we will collectively achieve much more than before,'' he said, adding that India would become irrelevant if we are not digital in this era. He said Jio would improve India's digital ranking.
"Data is the oxygen of digital life. Jio is more than just a business. It is a commitment to enrich the life of every Indian,'' he said.
He said most service providers had infrastructure for voice, not data. They have had to retrofit, have had to push an unnatural act. ''There is one language spoken on Jio, the language of the internet: IP. The all IP design makes Jio the most extensive and future-proof in the world. Jio is a data strong network, built for the internet from the ground up. It will cover 90 per cent of India's population by March 2017.
He said Jio is the largest VoLTE network in the world. Jio is future ready and can be easily upgraded to support even more data. ''We can transform India from a high price data market to one with the lowest data rates anywhere in the world.''
Ambani also announced new Lyf devices with prices starting at Rs2,999 and going up to Rs5,999, and a 4G LTE JioFi router at 1,999, ensuring that entry price for using the network will be low for Indians.
On content, he said Jio TV will offer access to 300 plus channels. Jio Cinema will have a library of 6,000 movies and 1,00,000 episodes of TV shows. Jio music will have 10 million songs. Jio Money allows you to go cashless. And apps will be free for all users till December 2017.
He said a redesigned sign up process will roll out in Delhi and Mumbai today and in the rest of India within six weeks, with capacity to acquire a million users a day. He said e-KYC will give a working connection with an Aadhar card in just 15 minutes.
On tariffs, he said Jio tariffs are built on three principles: customer should play for only one service - voice or data. So all voice calls will be absolutely free. No roaming charges across India. Data must be affordable: Jio will have a base rate which is 1/10th of market rates: 5 paise per MB, or Rs50 per GB. ''The more you use, the cheaper it gets. Absolutely the lowest rates anywhere in the world.'' And pricing structure should be simple so just 10 tariff plans. No blackout dates.
International calling rates will be best away, said Ambani. Indians will no longer have to turn off data.
Students will be able to get 25 per cent more data on Jio's main tariffs. Platinum customers will get white glove services.
Rounding up, Ambani said there is one more thing: starting 5 September, all Jio services will be available for everyone free till end of the year.'' He called it the Jio welcome offer. However, free services have been running for a while now.
Jio is rolling out fibre-to-the-home wireline network. He announced a Rs5,000-crore venture fund to help Indian entrepreneurs to set up their businesses.