Jio is most likely to commercially launch its much-awaited 4G services on August 15, which is India’s Independence Day, this year with its maiden plan, called Freedom, according to an Economic Times report. The “Freedom” plan may offer free voice services bundled with data, priced at least 25% lower than current offerings of top rivals, the report said, adding that the company has informed internal teams about the launch. Sources closer to the development told the publication that the launch of Freedom plan is most likely to kick off a tariff war, given that incumbent operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular still draw 80% of their revenues from voice.
To avail of the free voice plan, Jio subscribers will need to buy data packs, which will offer 1GB at around Rs 80, the publication reported. This compares with around Rs100-120 for 1GB offered by current operators. Industry leaders such as Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal and Kumar Mangalam Birla have already predicted massive tariff erosion following Jio’s entry.
In order to make the commercial launch a success, Jio is talking to telecom tower companies to rent a large number of sites. Figures quoted by vendors vary between 35,000 and 60,000 sites. The 4G entrant is already offering its high-speed 4G services to customers under a trial launch, which got lately extended after the company began selling Lyf smartphones with SIM cards enabled for highspeed data services in bigger cities.
The Jio SIM cards come with three months of free unlimited data and 4,500 minutes of voice calls. The telco, in early June, also launched Jio.com, the website through which consumers can register and obtain Jio connections. The new website has helped the company build a database of potential customers while providing a preview of Jio’s app-based content services such as MyJio, JioChat, Jio-Play, JioOnDemand, etc.
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) had bought 4G spectrum in the 2300 MHz band in 2010, and has since strengthened its holdings in the 850 MHz and 1800 MHz bands. In January, Jio has also entered into spectrum sharing and trading agreements with Reliance Communications.