Indian upstart Reliance Jio laid out plans for its long-awaited entrance in the country’s mobile market, with the offer of free domestic voice calls and low priced 4G data set to spark a price war in the country.
Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Jio’s parent Reliance Industries, and India’s richest man, unveiled the company’s plans at its annual general meeting, and said it would launch a “free welcome offer” for Jio customers from 5 September (next Monday) up until 31 December, when Jio will reportedly finally launch commercial operations.
Monday’s preview launch offers customers the chance to sign up to its network, with services completely free up until the end of December.
Over the past few months, the company has been testing its network, attracting approximately 1.5 million users, which has caught the attention of rivals in the country. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) accused the operator of offering a full blown mobile service, disguised as a trial.
Jio then hit back, accusing rivals of trying to sabotage its entry in the market.
Its official launch includes 10 tariffs, and Ambani revealed it would offer free voice calls to its “active users”, reportedly proclaiming that no Jio customer “will ever have to pay for voice calls again”. Other free offerings include unlimited data at night on some tariffs and free roaming.
Its data pricing, according to Economic Times, will be available at one-tenth of the prices offered by incumbent operators, such as Bharti Airtel, and the company’s offers will transform India from a high priced data market to one of the lowest.
The publication said Jio’s cheapest data offer, averaging just over INR50 ($0.7) per GB, will be the lowest in the world.
The plans start at INR19 per month for occasional data users, INR149 for low data users, and a premium price of INR4,999 for heavy data users, which gives users a 75GB allowance.
Outlining the company’s ambitions, Ambani said Jio’s launch will cover 90 per cent of India’s population by March 2017, while revealing the company hoped to have 100 million customers in the shortest time possible.
Eventually, the network should cover 18,000 cities and 200,000 villages in the country.
“From the 5th of September, India will change forever,” he said.
Major rivals Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have reportedly responded with offers that beef up their own data offerings.