After the initial shock of the announcement of free services by Jio on October 8, it was just beginning to look like the key incumbent competitors, namely, Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea, had weathered the storm remarkably well. While they had all taken small steps to manage the aftermath of the Jio offer, the consensus view was they had managed to come through with relatively little damage. Airtel in fact grew since the announcement, though value growth lagged numbers growth.
Today’s extension of Welcome Offer by Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani will truly set the cat among the pigeons. Not only does this mean that the period of free calls and data services will run to 6 months from its first announcement, it will also start making an impact on a user base that seemed to be either content with inertia, or waiting to see their existing operators come back with matching offers.
The main reason being ascribed to Jio’s extension of the offer, has officially been the less than quality services users got, blamed on the non-cooperation of incumbents. What was left unsaid was that Jio is probably targeting a subscriber base closer to 100 million, than the 53 million it claims to have garnered till now.
And there is absolutely no doubt, that the next 50 million subscribers will be shaken out from the subscriber tress of the incumbents. The incumbents, who were keeping their powder dry till the time Jio starts charging for its services, are finally faced with a Hobson’s choice. Try and fight ‘free’ for the next 4 months, or take the tough call on wait out yet another period when they might lose too much to make the fight worthwhile in 4 months.
Yes, Jio aims to bridge digital bridge but it needs to improve its connectivity and after sales service. Even the data speed is not consistent as it varies between 0.4 MBPS to 5 MBPS.