Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani launched the much-talked about Jio 4G services today, announcing a slew of "affordable" offerings and plans, in what he called a "revolutionary" step to realise India's digital ambitions.
Addressing the company's 42nd Annual General Meeting, Ambani announced the new plans as well as other offerings for Jio, to several rounds of applause from shareholders.
Among the main highlights was his announcement that all voice calls for Jio customers will be free, and there will be no roaming charges involved. Ambani likened Reliance's decision to not charge for voice calls to what is already common overseas.
"Customers should pay for only one service – either voice or data, not both," he said. "The era for paying for voice calls is ending."
Ambani claims the Jio's data plans are one-tenth of what is being offered by competitors. Its data plans will have an effective rate of 5 paise/MB, or ₹50/GB and are widely expected to trigger a price war among India's telco players.
Shares of Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel tanked up to nine per cent today after Ambani announced the free voice calling and cheaper data tariffs.
The much-anticipated 4G VoLTE service rollout has been generating a lot of user interest across the country and millions of people have already bought the Reliance Jio SIM for the free data during the trial period.
The company is offering unlimited data and premium access to all the Jio apps till the end of the year for all the consumers. Starting from 5 September, Jio services would be available for everyone. He said the free apps for Jio users have been made possible in part because they have been designed in such a way that apps update and download during the night, which are off-peak network usage times.
Ambani mentioned that it will have digital e-KYC activation so the SIM card can be activated instantly.
Reliance Jio claims to be the cheapest LTE provider in the world. A total of 10 tariff plans were announced by the company. "We launched Jio because it means to live. We want to fulfill Prime Minister's dream of digital India," Ambani said.
The tariff plans start from as low as ₹19.
Jio will also be offering student discounts to vaild ID holders as well. The company will offer 25% extra data to the students.
Additionally, Ambani said Jio is also rolling out Wifi hotspots across India, and by mid-next year, it plans to deploy one million hotspots in the country.
He also announced Jio's entrepreneurship fund that aims to provide venture capital to encourage young entrepreneurs to build digital businesses from the ground up In terms of e-commerce, it also plans to introduce new apps around education, and increase its reach to rural areas.
Ambani said that Jio is aimed at realising Digital India dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Data is the oxygen of digital life. Jio is more than just a business. It is a commitment to enrich the life of every Indian," he said.
He also called out other networks to support Jio for inter-network connectivity. He said that last week Jio customers suffered more than 5 crore call failures to the other network. Ambani appealed to the telecom companies to have healthy competition in the market by providing assistance to the newest entrant in the sector.
Ambani also announced Jio has set a target to acquire 100 million customers "in the shortest possible time."
With inputs from Rimin Dutt