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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Reliance Jio 4G and the ‘Free’ Hype

Reliance is expected to officially roll out its Jio 4G service sometime next month. 

Updated
Tech News
4 min read

It isn’t everyday that you witness a long queue in a mall at 9:30 am, even before most shops have rolled up their shutters. But such is the lure of FREE (sic) unlimited internet for 90 days, that thousands all across India are lining up outside Reliance Digital Stores.

Everyone wants to get their hands on the Jio 4G preview offer. Reliance Jio has pulled off a marketing coup, without even commercially launching their 4G network.

Over 1.5 million Indians are already making voice and video calls, sending messages and internetting on the country’s widest 4G network, all for FREE. While consumers are YAYing, rivals are NAYing, Reliance Jio is SLAYing... or is it?

Amidst the bhakts who are worshipping the brand for disrupting India’s Internet landscape, we maintain a more neutral approach and answer 5 questions everyone’s got, but don’t know who to ask!

1. What Happens to Jio Preview Offer After 90 Days?

While the unlimited FREE voice, sms and data will stop after 90 days, consumers will be given a choice of tariff plans and will have to choose from them to continue using the services.

The Reliance Jio board has approved the rights issue. (Photo: iStockphoto)
The Reliance Jio board has approved the rights issue. (Photo: iStockphoto)

And if the leaked tariff plans are anything to go by, Jio is all set to launch the cheapest data rates in the country at 50 paise per MB.

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2. When is the Commercial Launch?

As per a report, the service was to be launched on 15 August. According to latest reports, it appears Mukesh Ambani might announce the commercial availability on 1 September at the RIL Annual General Meeting. Shareholders have been waiting since December 2015, as have been consumers.

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3. Is the Jio 4G Preview Offer Even Legal?

Airtel, Vodafone and Idea would like to argue with TRAI that Reliance is being unfair and is masquerading commercial operations as a free preview offer.

All major operators aren’t sure of Jio’s practises. (Photo: iStockphoto)
All major operators aren’t sure of Jio’s practises. (Photo: iStockphoto)

They are basically doing business without really paying the government spectrum charges and other fees that a commercially launched network has to pay.

And yet it is on a massive customer acquisition spree by throwing in the carrot of 90 days of free voice, data and texting services. The Jio 4G Preview Offer is in a grey area of legality and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is yet to take a view on this.

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4. What About Voice Calling?

Early adopters of the Jio network have been critical of their voice services. And Reliance admits it.

As per a letter submitted by Reliance Jio to TRAI, call drop rate on their network is above 65% right now. More than 1.6 crore calls fail between Jio and Vodafone, Airtel and Idea networks. Which means calls which initiate on the Jio network do not follow through on shared networks, because other players are not sharing their networks.

Reliance Lyf Flame 6 phone sans Google Play Store. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Reliance Lyf Flame 6 phone sans Google Play Store. (Photo: The Quint)

The primary reason for this is the tussle between the incumbent players i.e. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea and the brand new entrant. Reliance needs an interconnect point with other networks to keep their voice calls from dropping.

The incumbents are not co-operating, even though there is a written agreement and they have a very good reason for it. Reliance Jio has been ‘testing’ their network for close to 9 months.

Also Read:
Reliance Jio 4G’s Now Providing Fast Internet For Laptops

With more than 1.5 million consumers in its fold, many of who are saying goodbye to existing networks, this feels like a commercial scale operation and not a ‘beta-test’ to other network providers. It is a logjam that shows no sign of clearing up anytime soon.

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5. Can I Port my Existing Number to Jio Network?

Since Reliance Jio hasn’t launched officially, you cannot port your existing number. But one hopes, post the commercial launch, with other networks willing, one will be able to sign up for a reasonable data and voice plan and port.

I would, however, highly recommend not doing that, since Jio’s voice network infrastructure is extremely unstable right now.

Time for the likes of Airtel, Vodafone to mint more money. (Photo: Reuters)
Time for the likes of Airtel, Vodafone to mint more money. (Photo: Reuters)

To some extent, Reliance Jio reminds me of the proverbial “WINTER” that keeps coming and everyone keeps alluding to throughout the popular television series Game Of Thrones.

In India, we have been waiting long for this network to catalyse our smartphone data revolution.

My only sincere request to Mr Ambani: PLEASE LAUNCH ALREADY!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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