With the entry of Reliance Jio into the market, the Indian telecom scene has forever been changed. Never before from the telcos, we had expected that there would be free voice calling for the users, yet Reliance Jio has not only introduced free voice calling, but the telco has also made 4G data very accessible and cheap. However, Jio’s arrival in the market has kicked off intense competition which has caused the telcos to match with Jio, and in this entire affair, consumers have definitely benefitted a lot.
VoLTE Made the Job Easier for Incumbent Operators
For the most of time, Reliance Jio has enjoyed the exclusivity of providing the 4G VoLTE service to the users. To give you an insight about what is special about the 4G, it’s the ability of the network to provide HD audio calling to the users which unlike the 3G/2G network doesn’t shift to 2G during call times. However, after all this time, finally, Airtel and Vodafone have also started rolling out their 4G VoLTE services. Airtel has already rolled out 4G VoLTE services in Hyderabad, Karnataka, Mumbai, and so on, whereas Vodafone has started the rollout in Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat etc. Idea Cellular now has VoLTE presence in 15 telecom circles, the highest for a GSM operator. Slowly, these telcos are bound to spread VoLTE services pan-India. Thanks to VoLTE, Airtel removed the daily FUP on voice calling and over the period of time, Idea Cellular and Vodafone will remove it too.
But in recent times, I saw a lot of consumers of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular complaining about an error ‘This number is not valid,’ even when they’re in a good coverage area. While this problem is something related to VoLTE (because the three telcos are GSM operators, so the network often falls back to 3G and 2G), it gets annoying at times.
Tariff War Good for Consumers
Starting from Re 1 for a minute of call to free unlimited calling the Indian telecom market has grown by leaps and bounds when it has been about competition in the data tariff sector. Progressing from GPRS, EDGE, 2G, 3G and then finally to 4G the costs have come drastically down while the volume of data consumption has equally increased. Between the war of the telcos, and with falling prices and more and more attractive offers, the customers are the one benefitting at the end of the day.
Pricing War is Now Done and Dusted, Quality of Service is the Key Going Forward
Although Reliance Jio deserves a lot of praise for bringing down the cost of data and bringing in a revolution in the telecom industry, many readers will agree with the fact that Reliance Jio definitely hasn’t upgraded their infrastructure to seamlessly accommodate the 186 million subscribers which it has garnered in the 18 months. Although the company says we have been upgrading network every now and then, data speeds remained the same on Jio network since the Day 1. While there was a time when users could get up to 20 Mbps of speed, now many users struggle to get even 1 Mbps of speed on their phones or JioFis. In this troublesome situation, Reliance Jio isn’t the only one to partake; Vodafone and Airtel are in the same boat too with slow connections and problems like call drops, interconnectivity and poor reception.
Since the last few weeks, I noticed that Bharti Airtel has been upgrading its network infrastructure across various cities. Recently, I have been to Delhi T2 Airport where Airtel offered me a whopping 35 Mbps download speed in a congested area with more than 300 people sitting right out there. On the other hand, Reliance Jio failed to latch onto the network. The same applies to Mumbai and Hyderabad Airports. Airtel is also implementing CA in various cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Vijayawada and so on. When latched onto CA, the download speeds reach as high as 75 Mbps.
The irony is Reliance Jio also implemented CA across various cities. Recently, I have been to Bengaluru and started using Jio SIM card in the Moto Z2 Force which has CA enabled. Even on an LTE+ connection, the download speeds never crossed 10 Mbps, while Airtel offered me over 15 Mbps speeds across Bengaluru on the standard 4G network on the Nokia 7 Plus and OnePlus 6. And yes, am not speaking about Idea Cellular and Vodafone because there are no network upgradation programs from them and yes, they’re busy with the merger work.
It will be interesting to see how the telcos tackle these issues in the near future. As with falling prices and so much competition even the loyal customers won’t mind leaving their telcos, given that SIM portability is now a very easy task for every consumer out there.