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LIVE COVERAGE: MUKESH AMBANI speech on RELIANCE JIO welcome offer

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Starting at 1:30 PM today, Mukesh Ambani will give a speech on the future plans of Reliance Jio at which he’s widely expected to unveil new tariff plans for the 4G operator.

The new plans will come in the context of the successful resolution of the interconnect dispute between the operator and its incumbent rivals such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.

We will give be a live video and textual coverage of the event, with updates starting at around 11 am today.

POST-CONFLICT PLANS

The three incumbent telecom operators of India had initially refused to provide interconnection to RJio claiming that doing so will disrupt their business models. This led to Jio dragging them to the regulator, who directed them to open up their networks.

But the pressure also forced Ambani to reveal a set of tariff plans on Sept 5, much earlier than the company planned to. The new entrant was hoping to take the existing players by surprise by revealing its plans only at a late stage — in December — giving them little time to adjust their own pricing.

As such, it is believed that what the company revealed on Sept 5 is only part of the picture, and another half is yet to be revealed. While this is expected on Dec 28 — the birth day of late Dhirubhai Ambani — there is a chance that Ambani could reveal a cheaper set of plans today.

At the least, the RIL promoter will unveil a new promotional scheme — dubbed Welcome Offer 2 — to continue to attract more subscribers to its network.

The first plan was — Welcome Offer 1 — was supposed to lapse on Dec 31, but a 90-day rule on promotional offers means that it will no longer be offered to new subscribers from Dec 4 onwards, though plan benefits will continue till Dec 31 for those who signed up for the offer before Dec 4.

Jio could also give an update on its fiber-based broadband and IPTV services as well.

WELCOME OFFER EXTENDED OR NOT?

The key thing many will be watching will whether the original Welcome Offer, which promises free data and voice, will be extended to March 2017 or not.

Contrary to other media, RTN has maintained that it’s highly unlikely that the firm will extend the offer by another three months in its present shape, as it will impact its branding and image.

However, speculation on the extension continues to be rife, with several reports per day claiming that the offer has been extended or will be extended to March.

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.

The 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 the network — as some feared it would — it has affected the actual broadband speeds that people experience.

As a result, 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%.

It is also likely that people who become used to free services for six months may develop a resistance towards paying for the same.

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