TT, Mumbai, Feb 21: Mukesh Ambani today sounded the bugle for a no-holds-barred battle for supremacy in the fiercely competitive world of telecom.
He offered to extend by 12 months the benefit of free voice calls and national roaming along with low-priced, high-speed 4G data to the 100 million subscribers that Reliance Jio has drummed up in less than six months.
Existing Jio customers will be allowed to enrol for a Jio Prime membership at a nominal fee of Rs 99 a year and get all the unlimited benefits they currently enjoy till March 31, 2018, Ambani said in a videotaped message issued to mark the achievement of the subscriber milestone in 170 days.
The Jio Prime membership programme is being introduced at "a rock-bottom introductory price of only Rs 303 per month". It will be the cheapest data package in the country, effectively Rs 10 per day for 1 GB of high-speed data.
"On all of Jio's tariff plans, all domestic voice calls to any network will always remain free. Across India... To any network... Always. And no roaming charges... no blackout days... and no hidden charges," Ambani added.
The company will open a 30-day window to enable new subscribers to jump on board and get the same benefits as the existing subscribers.
Ambani exhorted subscribers of other telecom companies to use the facility of mobile number portability to switch to the Jio network, which expects to create a 4G footprint covering 99 per cent of the country's population by the end of this year.
Rivals have already been crying foul over Reliance Jio's perceived predatory tactics to grab market share. The telecom rivals have filed court cases and approached Trai to stop Reliance Jio from violating the regulator's rules by offering free voice calls under its promotional offer beyond the permitted 90 days.
Jio has indicated it will top any tariff plan offered by its rivals. "We will not only match the highest selling tariffs of each of the leading Indian telecom operators but we will also provide 20 per cent more data in each of these plans," Ambani said.
Ambani said Jio's efforts in the past five months had seen its customers use 100 crore GB of data in the past month - or 3.3 crore GB of data in a day.
"Jio users consume nearly as much mobile data as the entire United States of America... and nearly 50 per cent more mobile data than all of China," he added.
Ambani claimed Jio was adding seven customers every second and said that in the next few months the network would double its data capacity.
After his announcement, shares of Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular fell by 3.38 per cent and 0.37 per cent, respectively.