Reliance Communications mobile stores will start getting 4G SIMs starting some time next week for offering it to existing CDMA subscribers, said a source based in Kerala.
However, till Jio’s full launch, neither new CDMA connections nor new 4G connections will be sold by RCom. Only upgrades to existing CDMA users will be provided.
As we reported earlier, Reliance Communications — promoted by Anil Ambani — has put up a sign on its website saying 4G upgrade is coming soon. It has also started sending text messages to its CDMA subscribers that their service is going to be upgraded to 4G soon and they can call on 1299 to get more details about how to get a new 4G SIM.
According to our source in Kerala, Reliance Mobile stores across the state have already placed orders for new 4G SIMs and stock is expected to come “after the 25th.”
Once stock comes, anyone who has a Reliance CDMA connection can walk in, pay Rs 100 and get the USIM replaced by a new 4G capable SIM. They can also do the upgrade by themselves by getting a blank SIM from their Reliance store and sending an SMS from their existing number including details about the new SIM they want to move to. Please note: You do not need to use MNP for upgrading to 4G.
The person said that as of now, higher officials are saying that existing plans of CDMA customers will remain in place and will not be changed.
UPDATE: According to a higher-ranking source, tariff plans will be changed.
“It will simply be a change of network technology. Tariff plans will not be changed,” said the person. However, he added that since 4G is a more efficient and data-focused technology, cheaper data plans could be introduced after Jio’s commercial launch.
NO NEW CONNECTIONS TILL JIO LAUNCH
The source said RCom’s initial launch of 4G will be in the ‘soft mode’, just like in case of Reliance Jio.
As a result, at least in the beginning, focus will be on upgrading existing customers to 4G and not on selling new 4G connections.
This is likely the result of some agreement with Reliance Jio. If RCom were to start selling new 4G connections even before Jio starts full commercial launch, it could affect Jio’s prospects when it does launch.
As a result, RCom is likely to have agreed not to sell new connections, but only offer upgrade SIMs to existing CDMA customers.
50% DISCOUNT FOR 4G DONGLES
The person also said Reliance Communications will also be offering a 50% discount on dongle prices for those who want to exchange their old Reliance Communications data dongle (data card).
The old dongles will not work on the new RCom-Jio shared 4G network as it uses a totally different technology known as LTE.
These new 4G data dongles are likely to have a price of 2,000-3,000 without discount, the person said.
An exchange discount of 50% would mean that the current EVDO or CDMA dongle will be valued at Rs 1,000-1,500 by the company under the offer. The initial cost of an RCom EVDO dongle is around Rs 800-1,500, depending on whether it is a Revision A device or a Rev B device.
CDMA SALES STOPPED
To ensure that people do not try to ‘misuse’ the upgrade offer to get hold of new connections, Reliance Communications has stopped activating new CDMA connections.
This does not mean that it is necessarily abandoning CDMA services, as it also has MTS’ spectrum for continuing CDMA services. However, it does mean that till Jio launches its 4G service on a full and commercial level, RCom will not be selling new CDMA connections, or 4G connections to new customers.
The person also said that senior RCom officials have guided December as the time when restrictions on new connections will be lifted, indicating that Jio too will transition from ‘soft launch’ to ‘hard launch’ by that time.
WHY THE UPGRADE OFFER?
The primary reason why RCom is being allowed to upgrade its CDMA subscribers to RCom-Jio’s joint 4G network is the need for Jio to test the 800 MHz spectrum.
Since 800 MHz is coming from RCom’s CDMA service, when Jio starts testing it, RCom’s CDMA subscribers will face a lot of service issues, especially in the 14 telecom zones where MTS is not operating.
To compensate for this disturbance, Jio is reported to have agreed to let RCom’s CDMA subscribers move to its 4G network even before it starts full commercial operations.
RCOM’S CDMA (4G) DATA TARIFF
According to RCom’s website, there are broadly three postpaid plans for dongle users — 5 GB, 10 GB and 40 GB. The 5 GB postpaid plan is priced at Rs 599 plus tax, which should work out to about Rs 675 per month, or Rs 135 per GB.
The 10 GB pack is priced at Rs 799, which should cost about Rs 900 after tax, implying Rs 90 per GB.
The 40 GB pack costs Rs 999, or about Rs 1120 after tax, bring the per-GB cost to Rs 28, making it the cheapest high-speed data plan in the country.
The above are for RCom’s postpaid service.
In addition, RCom also offers prepaid data tariff. However, here, there are three separate tariff cards in prepaid.
The first tariff chart is for mobile handset use. Here, for Rs 250, you get 4 GB of EVDO (high-speed data). However, there are no plans that offer more than 4 GB of data.
The second rate-card is for old EVDO data cards (also known as HSD service or EVDO Rev A), while the third tariff card is for Rev B devices.
If you own a Rev B device, then you cannot use a Rev A recharge and vice versa.
Though there was a lot of difference between the two tariff charts, RCom has, of late, brought both of them into sync to a large extent.
According to Rev A rates, you get 2 GB for Rs 255 per month and 5 GB for Rs 499 including tax. For Rs 999, you get 10 (12 GB in some states) of day-time data and another 10 or 12 GB of night-time usage.
Rev B rates are also similar, except in circles like AP, Chennai, Maharashtra and Mumbai where you get only 15 GB for 999 recharges.
Both Rev A and Rev B plans also contain long validity jumbo packs. In both, you can get 18 GB valid for three months at Rs 1500 and 36 GB valid for six months at Rs 2,999.
Meanwhile, a Youtube video has revealed Reliance Jio’s soft launch plans and tariffs.