By now everyone knows that Reliance Jio, the latest kid on the block in the telco space has disrupted the 4G game big time with their aggressive on-boarding strategy of offering everything free to users. They have now expanded the freebie trip into March 2017. They currently boast of more than 50 million users. But is all really that good for them?
Reliance has quite literally poured money, time and a massive PR machinery into making Jio a formidable telco. And for most part they have succeeded in the initial part of grabbing users and raking in the numbers as far as the base growth in concerned. But then, they did it on the back of that one word that works wonders initially, but later comes back to bite everyone – free.
The welcome offer that they crafted to get users on to their network quite literally had nothing that the users would pay for, the 4G data was free, the SIM card was free, the voice calls were free, Roaming and STD charges were nil. So there is absolutely no wonder that millions thronged to get the Jio SIM.
The more pertinent question would be what they did with that SIM. Most people just made it SIM2 on their phone. They set it as the default SIM for Mobile Data on their phones. The point was very clear, the data was not charged for and they were happy to leech for free. The initial excitement over the free calling was watered down by the fact that it was virtually impossible to connect to any other network as the other operators had issues with calls terminating in their network from Jio. This was then addressed in stages, though at the time of writing this, the calls are still iffy at best. But that did not deter people, they wanted the data and initially the speeds were amazing, many replaced their broadband usage with Jio for very data intense downloads.
Eventually it had to happen. All the leeching without FUP limits resulted in massive speed decrease for everyone and a lot of latency. Jio was then forced to implement a 1 GB per day FUP limit beyond which speeds dropped to 128 Kbps. This was seen to improve speeds considerably. But then the year 20116 came to an end and so did the famed welcome offer.
The network then had to expand their offer to run into March 2017 and call it the “Happy New Year” offer. The idea was to keep the users engaged while they sorted out the legalities and the technicalities in the interconnections with other networks. Hopefully by then, they will be able to sort these out.
But then, even assuming that they sort out the interconnect, their primary problem stays intact. Will people move the Jio SIM from the SIM2 slot to the SIM1 slot? Will existing users of other networks port their numbers into the Jio network?
These questions are more complex than they seem. The other telcos have all come out with Free calling and attractive 4G data packs for their subscribers. So the free calls angle is all but closed, that and the fact that the interconnect fracas is still on. Then we have the initial USP that Jio had, great speeds. With more people coming on board and actually starting serious use of the network, we are sure that the speeds will touch what the other networks are offering right now. So that might not be a deal maker for them in the long run. There is also the issue of Net Neutrality with Jio Zero Rating their apps. The ramifications of that are yet to be seen. It is very surprising that the hue and cry that we all raised when Facebook attempted something similar is nowhere to be seen when it comes to Jio. So it looks more possible that the journey from SIM2 to SIM1 may not be all that easy for Jio. What do you think?