Storming his way into the telecom industry, India's richest man Mukesh Ambani on Thursday announced free voice calls and free national roaming along with rock- bottom data prices on his new Reliance Jio network that will debut on September 5.
Devoting two-third of his 90-minute speech at Reliance Industries' shareholder meet to make a slew of announcements on Jio, he took competition head-on by announcing free services on Jio for four months beginning September 5.testing.. we are here....
Voice calling will be free on Jio phones for life and post December 31, 10 data plans will be offered starting at Rs 19 a day for occasional users, Rs 149 a month for low data users and Rs 4,999 a month for heavy data users.
Ambani stopped short, however, of calling January 1 as the commercial launch of Jio which will offer only fourth- generation or 4G services in the world's second-largest smartphone market.
"Customers should pay for only one service, either voice or data. Not both... The era of paying for voice calls is ending," he said. "No Jio customer will ever have to pay for voice calls again."
He also announced that there will be no national roaming charges for Jio users.
For data, he set an aggressive rate of 5 paisa per MB or Rs 50 per GB. "And the more data you use, the lower the rate," he said.
"Data packs available in the market have an effective rate of about Rs 250 per GB. With Jio, you pay 5 to 10 times lower - Rs 25-50 per GB depending on your data usage," he said, targeting 100 million customers in the shortest time possible.
He also announced a 25 per cent more data for students, 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, "best-ever international calling rates", unlimited subscription to Jio app and special solutions for enterprises.
"Jio's data, voice, video and full bouquet of Jio applications and content will be available for everyone, absolutely free, till December 31, 2016," he said promising to offer data speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second.
He didn't mince words when talking about the competition, asking them "not to misuse their market power by creating unfair hurdles, when it comes to providing points of interconnect between their networks and Jio's networks".
Telecom operators not only have legal obligation to provide points of interconnect to other operators but also cannot limit customers' right to migrate to Jio using Mobile Number Portability, he said.
Ambani said the launch will transform India from a high priced data market to having the lowest data rates anywhere in the world.
Emphasising that data must be "affordable", he announced 10 plans including the Rs 149 plan, where users will get free voice (local and STD), free roaming and 100 SMS alongwith 0.3 GB of 4G data.
Under the Rs 4,999 plan, users will get 75GB of 4G data as well as unlimited 4G access at night for a period of 28 days. Other plans would be available for Rs 499, Rs 999, Rs 1,499, Rs 2,499, and Rs 3,999. All the plans, excluding the Rs 149 plan, will bundle in free unlimited SMSes.
Ambani said the Jio apps subscription worth Rs 15,000 will be complimentary to customers up to December 31, 2017.
The company also announced 4G smartphones starting from Rs 2,999.
Arch rival and the largest mobile operator in the country Bharti Airtel welcomed Reliance Jio's "entry to the digital world" and said as a responsible operator it will fulfil all regulatory obligations as always.
Existing operators under the aegis of Cellular Operators Association of India have been locked in a battle with Reliance Jio over providing points of interconnect.
Telecom analysts said Reliance Jio has delivered a knockout punch on pricing of voice and data tariffs.
"No doubt tariff plans for voice and data is going to be a game changer for telecom industry... Though, topline from telecom business will start trickling in; however big concern arises on timelines of achieving operating break-even point in context of tariff policy deployed," said Dharmesh Kant, Head - Retail Research, Motilal Oswal Securities.