Reliance Jio's 4G will become a paid service from 1 April 2017. So it looks like the free data ride is now coming to an end. Under a new deal, Reliance Jio Prime membership at Rs99 was announced on Tuesday by Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani, and it could prove to be an effective way of retaining its 100 million subscribers.
But is the Rs99 per year Reliance Jio Prime membership worth it? What are rivals like Vodafone and Airtel offering for data charges? Here's a look at the options.
The Rs99 membership is valid till 31 March 2018. Once you've paid the Rs99 yearly fee, your Reliance Jio number will continue to offer the same services under the Happy New Year Offer, but there's a Rs303 monthly charge involved.
Essentially for this Rs303 per month you will get unlimited voice and video calling services with 1GB high-speed daily data. Post the FUP (Fair Usage Policy) limit of 1GB, speed will reduce to 128 Kbps for the day.
Basically customers are getting 30GB for the month at Rs303, which is a lot if you consider that a majority of users are relying on Jio as their primary data connection. Additionally, users will get unlimited data between 2 am to 5 am. Users will get to enjoy all Jio premium apps free for one year, but remember data consumed on these apps is deducted from your regular data balance.
Users need to sign up before 31 March to get the benefits of Reliance Jio Prime membership.
But Jio is not the only one offering unlimited calling, extra data benefits to its customers. Here's a look at plans from rival Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular. Technically no other player is offering 1GB data per day to its users, but free calling has become common across telecom players.
Airtel: Airtel's 'Myplan Infinity' plan offers free unlimited calling starting at Rs799, but only 100 local + STD messages per day and a limit of 2GB of 3G / 4G data the month. These plans also come with free subscription to Wynk Music + Wynk Movies.
Then there's the Rs1,199 plan, which has similar benefits except it has a higher 5GB data limit and this applies for 3G and 4G. The Rs1,599 plan offers 10GB of 3G/4G data, while there's a Rs1,999 plan with 15GB of 3G/4G data. Finally the Rs2,999 plan gives 30GB of 3G/4G data with similar free voice calls, 100 local+STD messages, etc.
On the prepaid side, Airtel users can get a Rs345 recharge, and then they will be able to make unlimited calls to any network, but the data limit is stingy at 1GB of 4G data for 28 days. Airtel also has a smaller Rs145 recharge pack, which offers unlimited free voice calls to any network, but only 300MB 4G data free for 28 days.
Vodafone: Vodafone Red plans from Rs1,699 offer unlimited calling for postpaid users. The Rs1,699 plan includes unlimited free (local + STD) calls, free incoming on roaming, 500 (local + STD) messages and 12GB of data. It is followed by a Rs1,999 plan with similar details, except it has 16GB of data.
Vodafone's Rs1,299 plan offers only 3,000 minutes of local + STD calling and around 8GB of data.
On the prepaid side, there are recharges above Rs144 which offer free roaming on Vodafone network and 50 MB free data.
There's also a Rs344 prepaid recharge that has unlimited calls, roaming on all mobile networks and 300 MB free data for 3G handset users and 1 GB data for 4G handset users. The daily data part is still less than what Reliance Jio offers under the Prime membership.
Idea Cellular: Idea's unlimited calling plans come with just 3G data; there's no 4G bundled along as with the other operators. Idea Cellular's Rs1,199 plan gives users unlimited local + STD calling, unlimited free calling on roaming, 5GB of 3G data and 3000 local + national SMS. There's a Rs1,599 plan that offers the same deal, but with 10GB of 3G data.
Jio best so far
If Reliance Jio has become your primary data supply, then it makes sense to get the Jio Prime membership for the 1GB data per day at Rs 303 per month. But remember Jio is 4G VoLTE only, and your phone needs to have the relevant bands supported for you to enjoy the full benefits of these services.
Players like Vodafone, Airtel, and Idea Cellular have implemented the free voice-calling bit in some most of their plans, but the data part is still less compared to what Reliance Jio is giving under Prime. However, don't be surprised if the older players launch some new lucrative data plans soon to counter Jio Prime.