Reliance Jio’s free Welcome Offer will not be extended beyond Dec 31, despite widespread media reports saying that it will be.
“There is practically zero chance of it getting extended,” said a marketing official working for the company in Kerala. “If there were to be any such thing, we would have got to know by now.”
In addition, there are reports of flyers and brochures that are to be used to introduce existing and new users to Jio’s plans.
The brochures mention that the tariffs are applicable from Jan 1, 2017. If the company was extending the Welcome Offer to March, it would not be printing these brochures and posters with the date Jan 1, 2017.
The official stand of the company has been that it will extend the offer if interconnect problems persist. However, these problems have been resolved in the last few days, according to industry inputs.
Jio has been engaged in a fight with incumbent operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular over voice interconnection.
However, as we reported two weeks ago, the fight is largely over and the three incumbents have provided the required interconnect points for Jio.
Perhaps as a result, the Mukesh Ambani company has also stopped putting up interconnect-related call drop data on its website. The last update is for Nov 7.
According to industry sources, blocking off calls from Jio to other networks is practically over as the number of interconnect points have risen to the required levels.
The second potential reason is that Jio is watu of being seen as a ‘free’ or a ‘cheap brand’ if it continues with its free data and voice service even after Dec 31.
The company risks becoming as a ‘commodity brand’ which provides lots of cheap data, but whose quality of service is not up to the mark.
Already, free services under the Welcome Offer has led to a huge spike in data traffic in India. Jio is currently estimated to be carrying about 10 to 20 times as much data traffic as all the other mobile operators in India combined.
While this has not totally choked up the network — as some feared it would — it has nevertheless affected the actual broadband speeds that people experience.
In this context, Jio has had to contend with headlines screaming that its 4G speed is only half that of Airtel 4G. However, most such reports ignore the fact that Jio accounts for over 90% of the 4G data traffic in the country, while Airtel’s share of 4G data traffic is likely to be less than 5%.
Still headlines like that are unlikely to help RJio’s efforts to position itself as a hi-tech and at the same time an affordable brand.
It is also likely that people who become used to free services for six months may develop a resistance towards paying for the same.
All this does not mean that new users who sign up after Dec 3 will not get any Welcome Offer. Jio is shortly expected to come up with a new Welcome Offer for new users, which will not be available to existing users.