26/01/2017 11:20 AM IST | Updated 26/01/2017 12:32 PM IST

Jio Becomes India's Number One Mobile Data Provider Thanks to Its Free Service

How the network fares when it begins charging users remains to be seen.

Reuters Staff / Reuters

Reliance Jio has become the number one network of choice for Indian smartphone users to connect to the Internet. According to a news report, 42 percent of Indian smartphone users have switched to Jio as their first choice for consuming data in their 4G enabled slots.

Reliance Jio offers a free SIM card and free unlimited data to users, with a sizable 1 GB per day data cap. In addition, the company offers free voice calls and access to its premium app which offers a range of movies and music. The services will remain free until March 2017.

Airtel takes the second spot with a 17.54 percent user share. In the face of competition from Jio, the company is offering 3 GB data every month in selected postpaid plans. This deal is only applicable to users switching to the Airtel platform from other networks. The company is also offering free unlimited calling for ₹345 along with the free 3 GB data.

Tom Miller/PA Archive

Vodafone and Idea are in the third and fourth place respectively. Vodafone recently beefed up its data packs without hiking any charges. It has launched a plan for ₹144 and ₹149 for prepaid users with unlimited calling and an unlimited calling plan for postpaid customers that starts from ₹499 with 3 GB of data. Other plans, that cost more, offer more data and other add-ons.

Idea has plans offering unlimited calling that are priced at just ₹148 for prepaid customers and postpaid plans priced at ₹499. The company has slashed tariff on its data packs by up to 67 percent.

State network operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) also recently announced a plan for ₹149 per month that only offers 30 minutes of free calling every day. The company is also offering 300 MB of free data with the plan.

While Jio is dominating the data market, it hasn't quite secured a foothold in the voice market. Part of the reason is noncompliance by other networks in providing Jio voice calls with interconnection points. That is one reason why there aren't many people using Jio's SIM as their primary mobile number to make and receive voice calls.

It would be a challenge for Jio to retain customers once it starts charging for data. Recent reports suggest that the company is planning to charge ₹100 per month for extending its 'Happy New Year' offer, which includes free voice calls and 1 GB of data every day.

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