Storming his way into the telecom industry, India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani on Thursday announced free voice calls and free national roaming along with rock-bottom data prices on his new Reliance Jio network that will debut on September 5.
Devoting two-third of his 90-minute speech at Reliance Industries’ shareholder meet to make a slew of announcements on Jio, he took competition head-on by announcing free services on Jio for four months beginning September 5.
Voice calling will be free on Jio phones for life and post December 31, 10 data plans will be offered starting at Rs 19 a day for occasional users, Rs 149 a month for low data users and Rs 4,999 a month for heavy data users.
Ambani stopped short, however, of calling January 1 as the commercial launch of Jio which will offer only fourth-generation or 4G services in the world’s second-largest smartphone market.
“Customers should pay for only one service, either voice or data. Not both... The era of paying for voice calls is ending,” he said. “No Jio customer will ever have to pay for voice calls again.”
He also announced that there will be no national roaming charges for Jio users.
For data, he set an aggressive rate of 5 paisa per MB or Rs 50 per GB. “And the more data you use, the lower the rate,” he said.
“Data packs available in the market have an effective rate of about Rs 250 per GB. With Jio, you pay 5 to 10 times lower - Rs 25-50 per GB depending on your data usage,” he said, targeting 100 million customers in the shortest time possible.
He also announced a 25 per cent more data for students, 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, “best-ever international calling rates”, unlimited subscription to Jio app and special solutions for enterprises.
“Jio’s data, voice, video and full bouquet of Jio applications and content will be available for everyone, absolutely free, till December 31, 2016,” he said promising to offer data speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second.
He didn’t mince words when talking about the competition, asking them “not to misuse their market power by creating unfair hurdles, when it comes to providing points of interconnect between their networks and Jio’s networks”.
Telecom operators not only have legal obligation to provide points of interconnect to other operators but also cannot limit customers’ right to migrate to Jio using Mobile Number Portability, he said.