By: Sandeep Budki, The Mobile Indian, New Delhi
Last updated : Wednesday, November 02, 2016 - 12:36
Jio's unique welcome scheme which gives users free access to voice and data till December 31, 2016, quickly built up a tremendous fan following and also invited protests from fellow operators.
Ever since Mukesh Ambani announced his new telecom venture Jio in India, the combination of free data, free voice and free SIM was considered 'irresistible' for existing customers on other networks. Reality has been different.
Jio's unique welcome scheme which gives users free access to voice and data till December 31, 2016, quickly built up a tremendous fan following and also invited protests from fellow operators. As expected, the formal launch started off with a bang, with a rush to get Jio sims. But the party might be ending much sooner than expected for Jio.
Yes , Jio aims to bridge digital bridge but there are a lot of dots, like seamless connectivity, after sales service, and so on, which needs to match operators like Airtel, Vodafone and to an extent, even Idea with their established systems. Here are five reasons why the reigning market leader Airtel remains better than Jio currently.
By Jio's own admission, Jio SIM users have allegedly experienced average call drops as high as 90 per cent on different networks and even The Mobile Indian has experienced around 70 percent call drops in the last few weeks. While Jio has blamed other telcos for this, claiming they are not letting Jio use enough interconnection points, resulting in congestion in the network, Bharti Airtel has denied these claims, blaming Jio's network inefficiencies for a large number of call drops despite providers giving enough interconnection points to Jio to handle its traffic.
Lost in these allegations and counter allegations is the fact that for Jio consumers, the initiation into the network has hardly been a smooth affair so far. And consumers will be least bothered with the why, being rooted in the reality of poor experience.
On the other hand, the Airtel network is much more dependable by all accounts, although by no means ideal, as the continuing industry discussions with the regulator on the broader issue of call drops demonstrates. But at around 10% failure rate, it is a far better experience for its customers as compared to Jio.
# Data connectivity
At the time of launch, Jio had promised the best mobile data speed India has ever experienced, and it did - perhaps for the first few days. But the reality is that at present the speed varies between 0.4 MBPS to 5 MBPS. As a matter of fact on several occasions, Airtel's 4G has proved to be faster than Jio especially in congested areas and while in metros or train.
During the annual general meeting (AGM) of RIL, the parent firm of Reliance Jio, on September 1, Ambani had said that the target was to enrol one million customers a day and reach 100 million consumers "in the shortest possible time." So, if anyone says the poor data connectivity is because of the humongous data load as consumers are using free data to the hilt, the logic is outright wrong. Didn't Jio take into consideration what amount of data will be used by 100 million subscribers and plan accordingly? Of course, the real numbers are at less than 1/4th that figure, so consider that food for thought.
# Support mechanism
If and when the need arises to connect with the customer care of Jio, keep some time handy, preferably 15 minutes or more. In the last five days we have tried calling customer care number of Jio multiple times and on an average waiting period was around 15- 20 minutes. As compared to a waiting time of 3-4 minutes at Airtel.
Also, there is no mechanism for lodging complaints against shopkeepers/dealers who are charging money to give Jio SIM, even an unofficial website which is charging Rs 199 for home delivering the sim and many such issues which require strong support mechanism in place. In contrast, for Airtel one can even raise a complaint on social media and look forward to a response.
To investigate the claims made by many of our readers that shopkeepers are charging money for providing SIM's which were meant be given free we investigated the matter to find whether a thriving black market was in the making.
During our investigation, we did find vendors charging money for the same. We first visited couple of Reliance Digital stores for almost 7 days regularly, there we got the standard responses, "Come at 1 PM on Monday", or "come after seven days", or just "don't have SIM, come some other time" -such rude and arbitrary sentences become the routine till we postponed our plans for a Jio SIM until this week.
Seeing no hope of getting a Jio SIM from Reliance Jio's "stores" we approached a third party vendor who promised to offer us a SIM immediately. But at a price. The shopkeeper demanded Rs 200 for the supposedly "free SIM". But we went with the flow as we saw people around us dolling out the asked money without any hesitation.
But that was not the end of it. Your correspondent, in particular, waited for two days for the SIM to get activated and when I ran out of patience , I approached the vendor to get it activated. He asked me to show the code but upon showing the same, he told that it is no longer valid, though, in the screenshot, it was clearly mentioned that the code is valid until December 31. Once again, a way out was offered at a price, Rs 100 in this case. So I had only two option - dole out another Rs 100 or forget it.
When we enquired from the vendors why he is charging us Rs 200 to Rs 300, He said "sir yeh service charge hai"
Clearly, Jio has indirectly started a thriving black market in the country which needs to be stopped and they also need to have a proper complaint redressal system in place.
# Device ecosystem
The launch of Jio services had been postponed a couple of times before its official launch because the networks weren't ready but was enough work done to get the ecosystem in place? We doubt it. First, the smartphones launched by Jio are just about adequate with nothing like the awesome user experience you can get on standard android or iPhones. Secondly, the smartphones by other OEMs which are supporting Jio SIM were not ready yet. As updates to support the particular band in which Jio's SIM operate are awaited, consumers are also in the dark about when to expect them. As a result, even if their smartphones got an update they didn't know what to do with it or how to use it. It has resulted in shopkeepers making a killing by selling a new smartphone by saying " aapke ke phone mein jio nahi chalega app dusro phone le lo.â€ ( Jio sim will not work on your phone , buy a new phone).
In contrast, Airtel SIM, as well SIM's from other service providers work seamlessly in all the phones though at reduced speed. So at least all the other operators are trying to bridge the digital divide without putting an additional of the device on the consumer.