When Mukesh Ambani announced the tariff plans of Reliance Jio Fiber a year ago, most of the people who were eagerly waiting for the commercial services to launch were disappointed as there was nothing special about the company’s tariff card.
However, its rivals were relieved, because their fears about a mega disruption in the market were gone and they could continue life as usual.
At that time, many industry observers had expressed the suspicion that the Mukesh Ambani firm may not have been really ready to roll out in most places, and had therefore unveiled a set of tariffs that were intended to function as a ‘decoy’ and lull its competitors into complacency.
A year later, their predictions seem to be coming true. Jio has started accelerating its fiber roll-out, after spending most of last one year in getting its network truly ready for a rapid rollout.
And finally, the ‘real tariffs’ too finally here, and these are truly disruptive.
While the earlier tariffs started at Rs 699 per month for around 200 GB, the new plan starts at Rs 399 for unlimited consumption at 30 Mbps. Including tax, that works out to Rs 471 per month.
The speed of 30 Mbps is enough for watching one 4K video stream, two full-HD streaming videos at the same time or five HD videos at the same time.
Meanwhile, the old 699 scheme, which had a data cap of 200 GB, has been made unlimited, while the speed has been maintained at 100 Mbps. This will be useful for people who want to watch more than one 4K video at the same time.
The second major disruption is free app subscription.
Even though the cheaper plans — Rs 399 and Rs 699 — do not come with free app subscriptions, if you are willing to shell out Rs 999 per month (Rs 1,179 including tax), then you get 11 apps free of charge, including all the major content apps available in India except Netflix. This plan also gives a speed of 150 Mbps (unlimited).
If you want Netflix too, you will have to shell out an extra Rs 500 to upgrade to the Rs 1,499 plan (Rs 1,769 including tax), and you also get a speed upgrade to 300 Mbps.
One of the key things to keep in mind about the Rs 1,179 plan is that if you activate it, you don’t need a separate satellite or cable TV connection, as practically all the TV channels in India also now available on various streaming apps.
So, in a way, the actual cost of the plan can be considered to be around Rs 800 per month, including the cost of apps such as Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and so on. Given that these apps costs around Rs 250-350 per month, that brings the net price of the broadband connection to around Rs 500 only.
In other words, if you are already spending money on various content apps and cable or DTH services and broadband, a switchover to the Rs 1,179 plan may actually save you some money.
In each plan, both the upload and download speeds will be symmetrical. In other words, on the 30 Mbps plan, you get both 30 Mbps down and 30 Mbps upload, which is helpful in sending or uploading files.
In addition, all the plans come with free voice calls, though it’s not clear if these new Jio Fiber plans come with a cap on the number of minutes of calls you can make to non-Jio networks such as Vodafone and Airtel. It is however likely.
Jio also unveiled a free, zero-cost trial offer for anyone who wants to give the service a try.
“JioFiber is already the largest Fiber provider in the country with over a million connected homes, but our vision for India and Indians is much larger,” Akash Ambani, Director, Jio.
“We want to take Fiber to each and every home and empower every member of the family. After making India the largest and the fastest growing country in mobile connectivity with Jio, JioFiber will propel India into global broadband leadership, thereby providing broadband to over 1,600 cities and towns. I urge everyone to Join the JioFiber movement to make India the broadband leader of the world.”
BAD NEWS FOR RIVALS
The new plans are extremely bad news for rivals, including local cable operators and players like Bharti Airtel, ACT, BSNL, MTNL and You Broadband.
The prices announced by Jio Fiber today are about 40% lower than what nearly all the above companies are currently charging.
However, many local cable operators already offer plain vanilla, unlimited fiber broadband connections at around Rs 400-500 per month. Even they will be under pressure from Jio on two fronts.
First, they will have to ensure uniform and reliable speeds and up-times, and secondly, they will have start offering value added services such as IPTV if they want to continue to retain their fiber broadband customers.