Reliance Jio in 2017: When a Newbie Made 4G Data Pocket-Friendly
A closer look at how Jio fared in 2017, and what made news for the operator this year.
Mukesh Ambani and co have worked long and hard to get Reliance Jio where it is today. Latest TRAI figures suggest Jio has over 130 million subscribers on its network and the numbers continue to grow.
But mobile isn’t the company’s only focus, with other avenues such as internet television and home broadband also on its agenda for the coming years. For what it’s worth, Jio has managed to scale up the ladder in the telecom sector by the virtue of its sheer resources, and unlimited pool of funds.
Here’s a closer look at how Jio fared in 2017, and what made news for the operator this year.
The year started of as Jio racked up the numbers, becoming the first operator to get 100 million users on its network in 170 days. Granted, its services were free till then, but for a newbie operator to reach that number (that too with 4G network only) was quite a feat.
With free voice calling in tow, Jio claimed it had clocked over 200 crore minutes of voice and 100 crore GB a month of data usage.
These numbers were made public in February. Now, it was all about whether Jio could roll on a juggernaut in the long haul, especially after March, when Jio was likely to start charging for its services.
Come March, Enter Jio Prime
Right before Jio was to start charging for its data services (it has a business to run, after all), the company announced a slew of new data plans and its Jio Prime membership that offers attractive data plans for a nominal annual fee of Rs 99.
Jio Prime Membership:
- Pay Rs 99 for one year to unlock a plethora of benefits on Jio 4G
- Avail Jio Prime between 1 March to 31 March 2017
- Jio Prime members pay Rs 303 per month and get 1GB per day for next 12 months
- Free access to Jio services like Jio Music, Cinema
- More deals and special benefits exclusive to Jio Prime members
By paying Rs 99 for one year, Jio Prime provides you access to an introductory 4G internet plan at Rs 303 per month up to 31 March 2018.
This new offer seemed liked a good idea, allowing Jio users to gradually get used to paying for its services. The aggressive pricing of Jio’s data plans appealed to consumers, which became evident when more than 72 percent of existing Jio users decided to pay for the Prime membership.
This was definitely a good start for the Ambani-owned telecom network, but this clearly wasn’t the end of the good times.
Dhan Dhana Dhan April Beckons
When Jio said that users will have to pay Rs 303 per month from April onwards, not many were sure if people would be willing to shell out that much.
And as it turned out, Jio did have a trick up its sleeve, which was this attractive offer. If Jio Prime promised a lot of data, access to content, then Jio managed to upstage that by rolling out its latest offer, Dhan Dhana Dhan.
As this chart shows, the latest Jio offer was basically asking you to pay once in three months to use a minimum of 1GB data per day. But for you to get this much data every month, you were forced to become a Prime member, and people obliged.
The fact that you can pay in April, and continue to enjoy internet till June-end was definitely an eye-catching move, which endeared plenty of non-Jio users to its network.
But Jio’s work in April ensured it had enough time to prepare for other big things to come later in the year before which it did hit a big hurdle.
Data Breach Brings Jio to a Halt
Jio had been in the news showering goodies on its customers, but for the first time the telco hit the headlines for controversial reasons.
Multiple users in India had reported that a website called Magicapk got access to data of existing Reliance Jio users.
We cross-checked this alleged breach and verified that some data breach did happen, with leaked details such as name of the user, his/her Jio mobile number and the region from where they have activated the connection available on the portal.
Jio admitted to the breach, but quickly rubbished claims of data theft and said its subscriber data was safe and maintained with the highest security. It said that data on the 'Magicapk' website appeared to be "unauthentic."
This case is still under investigation, and if Jio is found guilty of another incident such as this, its e-KYC license could be suspended, just like what happened with Airtel recently.
The ‘Effectively Free’ JioPhone
Later in July, Mukesh Ambani unveiled India’s first 4G-enabled feature phone, called the JioPhone. The phone, targeted at 50 crore feature phone users in the country, was to be made available for pre-booking from 24 August on payment of a refundable security deposit of Rs 1,500.
This deposit will be refunded after 36 months on return of the phone, he said, adding that the price of the phone will be "effectively zero".
Jio Feature Phone Key Announcements:
- Pre-booking from 24 August
- Available for free of cost
- Consumers to pay Rs 1,500 as refundable security deposit for 3 years
- 2.4-inch display
- Supports digital payment via NFC
- Connects via 4G VoLTE for calls and data
- New set of data plans, starting at Rs 153
Everyone lauded what Jio was trying to do here, and even analysts were bullish that Jio had opened up new avenues for the industry. The phone was briefly showcased at the event and there was a month-long wait before people could line up to get their JioPhone.
Where’s My JioPhone?
The phone was launched, it went on pre-order, but the deliveries were yet to begin. We did, however, managed to catch a brief glimpse of the device.
The phone comes bundled with a charger and headphone, that’s all you get for its ‘effectively free’ price tag. But the wait lasted longer than one imagined, with Jio initially focused on delivering the handsets to consumers from tier three and four cities.
Reliance Jio store dealers confirmed that JioPhone deliveries got delayed, which resulted in suspension of next round of pre-booking.
Free Mein Dum Hai
It was in October when Reliance Jio finally got to reap the benefits of its freebies, which was followed up with paid services. Beating the industry estimates, Jio managed to rack up higher average revenue per user (ARPU) than the incumbents and showed its intent to get to real business.
The telecom operator, which has recently reported an impressive set of financial results, beating the industry estimates, is on the lookout for more revenue generating activities in the coming years.
And this is exactly why Jio has decided to add a new plan for Rs 459, which replaces the existing Rs 399 plan, offering 1GB data usage per day, offering a validity of 84 days.
The updated Rs 399 plan still offers 1GB data per day, but the validity has come down to 70 days.
These positives results (with over 130 million paid users on board), and the incoming JioPhone release, has put Jio on the path to making it bigger in the coming years.
Mobile Data Like Never Before
If 2016 was all about putting itself on the map of the Indian telecom sector with a slew of attractive offers, in 2017 Jio ensured that India’s data consumption patterns change for good. From getting data plans for monthly usage, Jio got them talking in days.
The incumbents were also forced to cut down their data prices, which meant that you can pay as low as Rs 400 right now, and get free voice calling and data up to 1GB per day. That’s the real Jio-effect that India has seen this year, when internet data finally became pocket-friendly and accessible.
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