Jio, a new entrant in the 4G market, has achieved this growth faster than any other telecom operator or start-up in the world, including the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype, Reliance Jio Infocomm said in a release.
“We are delighted and humbled by the overwhelming response across India to the Jio Welcome Offer. Jio is built to empower every Indian with the power of data,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries (RIL). “We are delighted that people have recognised this and are utilising our services to the fullest. We are customer-obsessed and committed to improving every day to exceed expectations of our customers.” Reliance Jio Infocomm is a subsidiary of RIL. It launched its commercial services on September 5.
At RIL’s 42nd annual general meeting, Ambani had said his new telecom venture would aim to acquire 100 million customers “in the shortest possible time and create a new world record”. This would translate into a data usage of 250 crore gigabyte per month, he had then said. Jio has introduced Aadhaar-based paperless Jio SIM activation across 3,100 cities and towns. This enables the customer to complete the SIM activation process in a matter of minutes, with only his/her Aadhaar number. “This process will be extended across the country and fully stabilised for satisfactory on-boarding experience in the next few weeks,” the release said.
Jio, whose controversial entry into the world’s second-largest telephony market sparked off a tariff war, had onboarded 1.5 million users on its 4G network during the test phase. It is competing head-on with players such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone by offering users data services free for four months from September 5, after which it will offer 10 tariff plans starting at Rs 19 a day for occasional data users, Rs 149 a month for low data users and Rs 4,999 a month for heavy data subscribers.
Bharti Airtel, the largest mobile operator in India, has a subscriber base of 257.5 million, as on August. According to data by industry body COAI, Airtel’s subscriber addition in August stood at 0.70 million. It had added 1.07 million net new subscribers in July. Vodafone had over 200 million subscribers and Idea about 177 million subscribers in August while the subscriber count of Aircel stood at 89.7 million. Telenor’s came in at 53.2 million and that of state-owned MTNL was about 3.6 million at August-end.
Bharti Airtel’s broadband base (3G+4G) read 35 million. Vodafone and Idea together as of date have 25 million broadband users. They achieved these numbers in about 15 years while Jio has got 16 million broadband users in less than a month. Jio may have 35 million 4G users by October-end, crossing Airtel’s user base, industry observers said.
“We congratulate them (Jio) on the great performance. From a national perspective, we have to get 1 billion people connected. So, the sooner that happens, the better it is,” Rajan S Mathews, Director General of COAI, said.
COAI’s subscriber data for September (which includes the latest customer addition by various operators) are expected to come out in mid-October, he added. It is pertinent to mention here that over the last few months, Reliance Jio has clashed with incumbent operators over the issue of network connectivity.
Inter-connection enables mobile users to make calls to customers of other telecom networks and is, therefore, crucial for smooth functioning of mobile service. Jio, the new entrant in the 4G market, has accused dominant incumbent players of providing far less than adequate points of interconnections (PoIs) needed for its users to complete a call to a rival network. The operators have accused the new-comer of unleashing a “tsunami” of free traffic on their networks.
BSNL to increase data capacity by up to two fold
Gearing up to compete with private players, state-owned telecom firm BSNL plans to ramp up its mobile broadband capacity by up to two-fold to 600 terrabyte in a month. “We are seeing enormous increase in usage of mobile data on our network. We will be increasing our data network capacity to deliver high-speed 3G and other services. In South, we will double the capacity to 600 TB and in other zones, it will be up to 450 TB by November,” BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava said.