Breaking Through The Hype of Reliance Jio 4G Offerings

by Wrik Sen    Sep 22, 2016

Reliance Jio 4G with Mukesh Ambani

Reliance Jio 4G launch is undoutedly the latest talk of the town. From the time its Chief Mukesh Ambani announced its launch to the SIM-cards started going out to customers from September 5, there was [and still remains] a large craze for availing one of the cards. What attracted users was the disruptive pricing policy of the Reliance Jio 4G price plans, which promised on the cheapest high-speed data and free talk-time.

Apparently, it was all planned to disrupt the entire industry pricing scheme, and also push the ‘Digital India’ initiative in a bigger way, and bring in a whole new fold of consumers on to the world wide web. However, when one looks slightly deeper into the plans pricing vis-a-vis the benefits, one is left to wonder whether all that was promised by Mukesh Ambani at the launch, really bought about the changes everyone hoped for.

Read more: Will Reliance Jio Do To Data What R-Com Did To Voice

From the preliminarily looks of it, this is industry breaking standards. But there are a number of hidden policies of the Reliance Jio 4G initiatives. Here’s what one needs to look into the specific details of the plans before plunging into it.

1) The Rs 50/GB scheme needs to be looked deeper, to get the real catch of the scheme. The rate of Rs 50/GB of data is applicable on only the Rs 4,999/month plan, which gives users 75GB of data, hence the rate per unit of data comes down to Rs 50 (approx). This raises questions, as to how many people would actually shell out that kind of fixed monthly charges to get the allotted 75 GB of data.

2) Considering the cheaper data packs, which will perhaps have the maximum subscribers on them, like Rs 499/month pack, there is only 4GB of data allotted. On calculations, the rate works out to be Rs 125 per GB (rounding off Rs 499 into Rs 500). The cheapest of the lot, Rs 19 pack, allots only 100 MB of data, which essentially works out to Rs 190/GB. And the this pack is valid of a period of 1 day only, after which the validity will be can celled, and the user as to get another recharge of the amount. In fact, it makes better sense cost wise and validity wise, to go for a 100 MB 4G data pack for Rs 24, that is valid for 3 days, from the Airtel and Idea recharges. If however one needs a single data package for recharge, a Rs 9 voucher will get 35MB of data, from Airtel, Idea, or Vodafone.  

3) For someone with even a moderate to high data consumption pattern, the Rs 149 pack has little to add with the 300 MB data limit, hence the option of anything feasible is the Rs 499 pack, which gives 4GB of data. Though the unlimited calling remains a constant, the difference is the 3.7GB of data for an additional for Rs 350, which comes to Rs 95/GB (approximated), something which isn’t ‘revolutionary’ in real times.  

Read more: 4G Price War: It’s Reliance Jio Vs. The Others 

4) For a slightly higher-end pack of Rs 999, it really doesn’t work out as cheaply as one thought. This offering from Reliance Jio 4G, effectively gives out 10GB of data, apart from the standard unlimited calls. In comparison, when one spends just Rs 100 more on the Rs 1099 plan from BSNL, one gets an unlimited 3G data. Though 3G would not be as quick as 4G, for most uses online, it actually works out to be a far better value proposition, in the practical sense. 

5) The most tempting part of the Rs 149 pack from Reliance Jio 4G, is the unlimited voice calls, which is a constant on all plans. However, the problem with the Rs 149 plan is, though it may sound very cheap, but for spenders who barely spent Rs 20/30 for top-ups on a monthly basis, it turns out expensive. While Reliance costs more, it expires in 28 days, which means a far higher cost on an yearly basis. While Reliance would cost Rs 149*12= Rs 1788, it is nearly 6 times the cost for someone that used Rs 20/month for top-ups, for unlimited calls each month, though no one effectively uses that much airtime. 

What does Reliance Jio 4G work out like?

What Reliance effectively does, it transfer people from the existing 2G and lower end networks to using the 4G voice-over LTE (long-term evolution), mostly for voice calls. Though all mobile voice calls work on a data standard, Reliance’s 4G connections will effectively bring all previous users of 2G/3G services onto the 4G networks, which in the end, will congest the networks, and will result in call-quality drops. 

While during the early stages, it might not be such a hassle (assuming the inter-connectivity issues with other telecom providers are solved) during the earlier phase, as the call quality may be fairly better than on 2G/3G networks, and connectivity could be faster, but once the shift of consumers take place, it will be a serious crunch on the existing infrastructure, and other telecom providers including Reliance itself, will need to shell out far more more airwaves of higher frequencies, who will now be using 4G networks. In other words, Reliance is effectively promoting ‘voice’ instead ‘data’, atleast in it’s current status. 

As consumers, we all have tempted by the disrupting prices of Reliance Jio 4G, it actually makes better sense for us to now look a little deeper, and do some better number crunching in order to properly address costs vis-a-vis benefits we get. Or in other terms, it is time we read the ‘fine-print’ behind offers, or the ‘terms and conditions apply’, do some number crunching and see what the picture looks like then. 

Also, this disruptive method of working has bought in to an extent, and will further bring in as more people accept Reliance’s connections, into the ambit of internet services. Now, with financial inclusion being a major area for the government to stabilize and effectively grow the economy, internet/technology has a huge role to play, considering a mentionable amount of banking transactions and communications between institutions and customers, happen over the internet.

Some media reports have reportedly pointed out that cheap data would not be enough to create a ‘revolution’ or turn-around the economy. They point out to quality of services, as the main harbinger of measurement of success for the telecom war that has started, and promises plenty of action more in the times to come. 

Looking at it another way, call connectivity, signals strength, inter-connectivity, and other such issues will determine, whether Reliance Jio’s initiative to change India’s telecom scenario. And this will actually bear any fruits, as there are other service providers, and other agencies involved in the process.