Reliance Jio is Now the Leading Telco by Subscriber Base: A Step by Step Analysis of How it Got There

Reliance Jio has surpassed Vodafone Idea in terms of its subscriber base thus becoming the top telecom in the industry by number of subscribers

  • The Mukesh Ambani led telco ventured into the market in September 2016
  • The telco will be completing three years in the industry this year and will be launching a new FTTH service

The Mukesh Ambani led telecom operator Reliance Jio stepped into the telecom sector to change the face of the industry irreversibly. When the telco entered the industry, it did so with the plan of amassing a large number of subscribers at a massive rate, and it was also an easy feat for Reliance Jio given that it was offering free data and calling benefits to the subscribers. However, even with three years under its belt Reliance Jio does not seem to be slowing down in its pace as the telco is still targeting an even larger subscriber base in the country. Now the telco has the crown for the most number of subscribers under any telecom operator. What led to the rise of Reliance Jio from a new entrant in the sector to the apex? Here are the answers:

The Pricing Game

From a consumer perspective, ever since day one of the launch, getting a Jio SIM made a perfect sense as the telco offered dirt-cheap data and free unlimited calling. This was an industry-first move from Reliance Jio as no other company in the space was offering high-speed data and calling for free. The result was hoards of people crashing on the gates of Reliance Jio stores to get their hands on a new Jio SIM.

The Competitive Advantage

After Reliance Jio made a bold start in the industry and amassed a massive number of users, it rolled out its pricing plans for the people. Now although after a long period of enjoying free services, paying for Reliance Jio felt like a bitter taste in the mouth for subscribers, but even then, by this time, the customers had already fallen in love with Reliance Jio. The telecom operator was providing unmatchable 4G speeds, free LTE calling, SMS benefits and the consumers had already spread their ‘Jio numbers’ to their contacts, thus setting pace for the telco. In this massive upheaval, the other telecom operators were ignored as the subscribers found it to be the obvious choice to use their Jio numbers for free data and calling instead of paying for these services. The only thing these SIMs were in operation for was to receive incoming calls.

The Content Offerings

Reliance Jio did not only bring free data and calling for the consumers, but it also gave them ways on how to use it. The telco started offering a large library of applications which included JioTV, Jio Music, JioCinema where the subscribers could access TV shows, movies, OTT content, songs and much more. Before Reliance Jio, these applications were largely unheard of, and with free data, the subscribers could consume media with ease. Reliance Jio’s revolution also led to India becoming the top country with the most data consumption by volume. Not to mention, this was also probably the reason why Pew Die Pie lost to T-Series! (pun intended)

Later on, Reliance Jio also made significant acquisitions like Saavn, later integrating it with its JioMusic app, which is now available on the Play Store as JioSaavn. The telco also offered free access to live cricket matches as well and partnered up with Disney to bring a lot of content onboard the JioCinema app. These were some of the prime examples, how Reliance Jio managed to retain its users not only because of the simple data and calling services but also because of its robust content and app library.

The JioPhone Revolution

India being a country with deep rural pockets, Reliance Jio also had to ensure that the low-spend customers were onboard its subscriber base. To make sure of that, the telecom operator launched an affordable 4G enabled feature phone, the JioPhone, which managed to sell a massive number of units, north of 25 million, in the rural regions thus bringing a new stream of users on to the Jio network. These users then drove more and more data and calling volume on the Jio network. This was another way how Reliance Jio brought a big influx of subscribers.

Wide Coverage

With all this happening, Reliance Jio did not slow down its growth on the backend and continued to deploy more and more towers. In Tutela’s latest report detailing the infrastructure of all the telecom operators in 2019, Reliance Jio stood ahead of all the other telcos owing to its massive deployment of towers all across the country. As a result of this, the subscribers of Reliance Jio were able to receive quality network and high speeds, wherever they went. Another plus point in this regard is Reliance Jio’s all 4G network which means that unlike other telcos which downgrade network to 3G or 2G depending on availability, Reliance Jio’s customers continue to enjoy a largely consistent speed and quality from the operator.

The Attractive Offers

Another forte which Reliance Jio has conquered well for its subscribers is of the additional benefits. The telecom operator has launched cricket offers, cashback schemes, partnered up with major phone brands to offer some attractive discounts and schemes and is even providing smartphones with bundled offerings on its own e-commerce stores. This marketing effort on many fronts has also led to a lot of consumers in migrating to Reliance Jio network.

Given all the above reasons, it has been a largely effortless and fast road for the Mukesh Ambani led telecom operator towards the high seat on the table of a very competitive telecom industry. The telco is eyeing the launch of its fibre-based broadband service next month and is venturing into a new space. However, the growth rate of Reliance Jio in wireless subscribers has slowed down a little bit but not so much to threaten its long term plans. It remains to be seen what growth trajectory Reliance Jio sketches for itself in the near future.

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Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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SameerM.m. | West BengalYashakshaykumarVishal | Chennai Recent comment authors
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Recently i went to Lakshwadeep for vacation. Jio is absolutely is ZERO…. airtel/bsnl is having best coverage…especially the bsnl 2g is life saviour. when you are in vacation you don’t need 4G/5G/6G… vacation is meant for relaxation and enjoyment not for uploading instagram pics there itself! in my opinion its good to have a faster network but not its essential.. calls are sufficient




hi bro!

M.m. | West Bengal
M.m. | West Bengal

Namaste !

Vishal | Chennai
Vishal | Chennai

I think Jio is at its bottleneck in terms of capacity utilisation. Maybe that’s why they are using some kind of throttling in voice connectivity. Call is cut with in 5 rings in order to avoid crashing of network. Imagine when too many customers make a call at the same time. Given the size of Jio phone users ( voice users) this is done to reduce number of users dailing call at the same time some kind of delay mechanism. Maybe I am wrong just my assumption only. But weirdly I am facing this issue on my Vodafone number also… Read more »


Same things happened with me also. Telecom talk should look into it & post article about this .

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