Reliance Communications will offer higher subsidies on its 4G dongle to those who are classified as ‘Gold’ category subscribers, while those coming under bronze category have to pay the highest amount.
Gold subscribers will be paying only Rs 899 for the new 4G dongle, while Silver subscribers will pay Rs 1699 and bronze subscribers will pay Rs 2699.
The categorization is based on Reliance Communications’ internal assessment of the worth of each customer from the perspective of generating revenue for the company. Gold customers, in other words, generate the most revenue and are the highest priority as far as migration to 4G are concerned.
Most of the postpaid customers automatically fall into the Gold category, while regular prepaid customers qualify under Gold or Silver. This categorization is in line recent statement from the company that it is most keen to retain the most profitable customers through the upgrade process.
According to a customer care official, postpaid customers will be able to continue their CDMA Wipod data plan even after upgrading to 4G.
However, there is no official confirmation about whether this is so.
In addition, after the upgrade, prepaid customers will have to pay about two times what they were paying earlier.
For example, prepaid Reliance CDMA dongle users were getting 10 GB of high-speed data for Rs 800. Under the new 4G prepaid plan, they have to pay Rs 1,350 to get 10 GB.
Before the upgrade, a prepaid user could get 7.5 GB per month (with carry over) at just Rs 500 using long-validity packs, while after the 4G upgrade, they have to shell out Rs 1,125 for the same amount of data per month — an increase of 125% in data charges.
To cushion the blow till the end of this month, RCom will give an extra 1 GB for those recharging their dongles/Wipods.
The higher tariff has come as a rude shock to many prepaid users, who were expecting to be able to continue to use RCom as their main broadband provider.
The new tariff makes RCom as costly as its main rivals – Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone.
However, unlike its main rivals, RCom does not have an omnipresent GSM coverage. Though this is not a problem for dongle users — who will be on 4G network — this could create a huge issue for former CDMA voice users.
The CDMA service from Reliance Communications was one of the best voice services in the country and could easily compete against much bigger rivals as far as coverage was concerned.
Since the technology was superior to GSM, voice clarity was also much higher.
However, after the migration, these users will be provided voice services using RCom’s GSM network, which leaves something to be desired as far as coverage is concerned. Though RCom has tried to address the holes in its network by entering into roaming agreements with Aircel and Tata DoCoMo, these companies too tend to be strong in exactly the same places where RCom is.
At least some of those who upgrade to 4G and find the coverage inadequate are reporting problems with using MNP to move out to another network.