Reliance Jio 4G was supposed to be the biggest thing that ever happened to data in India, and it probably is too. But that doesn’t mean that it owns the market for affordable high-speed data.
Tata DoCoMo, which operates 3G services in nine circles, has started rolling out India’s cheapest limited 3G plan.
The new plan, which is being offered only via the web, gives 10 GB of high-speed data for Rs 495.
This is half the price of the corresponding high-speed data pack from Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular. All of these companies have priced their 10 GB 3G and 4G packs at Rs 999.
The only comparable pack is from BSNL, which offers 10 GB at around Rs 550 per month, and unlimited usage at around Rs 1,000.
Unlike BSNL’s offer, Tata DoCoMo’s plan is not available throughout India.
The company offers 3G services only in nine circles — Madhya Pradesh – Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra – Goa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh (West).
Even here, the offer is yet to be rolled out in all these circles, though, it will eventually be available in all the nine circles.
Tata DoCoMo has been hit very very hard by the launch of Reliance Jio.
The company used to get a big part of its revenue from its Photon branded Internet sticks.
However, with Jio offering free data as part of its trial offers, most people who used to use Tata DoCoMo Photon services have switched over to Jio.
In addition, Jio is also offering free calls till March, which has also hit the Tata group company. Tata DoCoMo gets its customers from the most price-sensitive category, unlike Bharti Airtel and Vodafone.
To make matters worse, Reliance Communications — controlled by Anil Ambani — has unveiled new plans with unlimited voice calling at Rs 149 per month, and BSNL is also likely to follow suit early next month.
Tata DoCoMo users, being very sensitive to pricing, are very susceptible to switching to Jio SIMs for availing free data. Until Jio’s launch, RCom, DoCoMo and Aircel were the players offering the cheapest calls rates.
On a positive note, the lower purchasing capability of these price-sensitive users could also mean that they won’t be quick to buy new 4G handsets to take advantage of RJio’s offerings.
DoCoMo has not invested as much into its 3G networks as the other players, and as a result, its network is not present in all the towns even in the nine circles where it has 3G spectrum. However, despite having limited number of towers, the company’s 3G speeds tend to be decent due to various factors such as a having relatively lower number of data users.
Jio is expected to start charging for its services from April 1, at which point players like DoCoMo will be able to compete again in the market. The Mukesh Ambani company is also withdrawing its Welcome Offer from Dec 31, and replacing it with a lower capacity offer known as Happy New Year that has a cap of 1 GB usage per day.