In typical Reliance fashion, after news reports that Jio’s introductory free offer might be changed on Dec 3, come the completely opposite reports that the free offer might see an extension right upto March 2017. So what shd one believe, even as we await a clear indication from Jio? It will be useful to differentiate between perception and reality, for starters.
The perception that Jio wanted to build was that with the fastest network, free offer and cheap phones, if you were serious about having a smartphone, picking a Jio connection was a no-brainer. Add to that news reports mentioning a lofty target of 100 million connections in a year, and the hype was complete.
Reality unfortunately has been slightly different. With the industry ganging up to effectively ensure you could hope to talk only to fellow Jio customers, and now, data speeds that are apparently dropping fast with the addition of new subscribers, the move to Jio is no longer a no brainer to those subscribers who decided to wait it out. Importantly, customer acquisition is reported to be well under 14 million on date, and tapering off fast, which will require Jio to pull out something truly special in the coming quarter to reignite the momentum it had built.
Jio has already blamed existing operators such as Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea, for a virtual non cooperation movement when it comes to points of interconnect – which allow users from one network to speak to users on the other networks- Its Chairman, Mukesh Ambani described the situation as “the newbie being ragged by the big boys”. On the other hand, it has also got approval from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for it’s free-calls-for-life plans, with the caveat that the offers had to end by December 3.
A Jio spokesperson asserts that the Jio Welcome Offer or JWO “benefits of free unlimited Voice and data will be available to all existing subscribers up to December 31, 2016.” But, the “JWO will be available to new consumers for subscription till December 3, 2016,” the spokesperson said.
Thus, what looks like hapening is this. Jio will probably extend the offer, as services they have offered to subscribers so far, especially in the area of voice calls have been well below any accepted benchmarks, thanks to the lack of reciprocity from other operators on interconnection. The recent TRAI order imposing record fines on the three main players is a sign that JIo’s complaints are finding an audience with the regulator, increasing the probability of an extension beyond Dec 3 too , for new subscribers. The only way existing operators can prevent that is to arrive at a truce with Jio where reciprocity(however one way it might seem to them right now) wins, so that Jio can move to a more ‘sane’ offering post Dec 3. If that doesn’t happen, we bet you could be reasonably sure of availing of free data from Jio beyond Dec 3. The only caveat we can think off is that for its heavy users, Jio might yet figure out a way to start charging them post Dec 31.