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Reader Story – The Reliance Jio 4G Perception: Myth vs Reality

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Reliance Jio 4g Launch

The Jio network has been in the eye of the storm ever since its announcement, sometimes for very good reasons and other times, not so much. The nascent telecom company, a part of the Reliance Industries Group, is popularly known as the product of a vision of one Mr. Mukesh Ambani, one of India’s premiere billionaires and the owner of RIL. To say that Jio’s journey since then to an established player in the telecom industry has been unconventional would be a gross understatement.

RIL acquired the necessary telecom spectrum in 2010 even before it had the infrastructure in place. Then work began at breakneck speed to bring the entire country under its network coverage for a pan-India launch which would if pulled off, be nothing short of a modern day miracle.

And a miracle it was to break into an industry dominated by incumbents who monopolized the market with a mutual understanding of data and voice tariff rates. Nobody attempted or even tried to understand the needs of the Indian consumer and how they differ from people in other countries. Nobody tried to take advantage of the ‘strength in numbers’ of the Indian people to come up with ways to gain more penetration into the market. That’s where Jio came in and hit them hard, a carrier built entirely on 4G, the company was a thing of the future. With free voice calls, it assured communication lines would always remain open and free.

Jio soon went into beta test phase and made it’s SIM with free internet accessible to select handsets with VoLTE ability. And it was a revolution of sorts, people who were starved of data for such a long time now has access to unlimited internet and unimaginable speeds. People praised Jio left, right and center and hailed it as the only network of the future. This went on for a year and more since the network was accessible to some for almost three years.

It is a popular assumption that the public has short term memory and it has proven to be correct in the case of Jio. After the commercial launch, Jio started capping and regulating speeds to meet the huge demand for the network, not that anybody was paying for it, it is still free till the end of the year 2016.

The speed regulation irked people who were reaping the benefits of a free network in beta testing, and they took to their favorite outlet, social media. This gave rise to a serious perception that Jio wasn’t a good network and could not handle this many people on their network. Jio in it’s defense hasn’t said much because I believe they want the network to do all the talking. I’ve penned down a couple of reasons why I believe the network is not only great but superior to other incumbents in the market today.

Let us look at it from the beginning; the average Jio user has been on the Preview offer for a minimum period of six months completely discounting the Welcome offer with its 4GB/day cap. According to Reliance Jio quarterly reports for 30th June 2016, the average monthly data consumption on its network was over 26GB per user per month, while the average voice usage per month is over 355 minutes per user. Again discounting voice, 26GB of data on any other network would cost you Rs. 6,500 at the least.

I don’t think anyone would agree to such a data plan that would have them paying Rs. 6,500 per month. Not to mention we all know of someone, me or you who have easily crossed the 26GB mark. Taking into account the Jio voice calls, messaging and other app services Jio users must have saved something to the tune of INR 7K – 10K. Jio put all that money back in customer’s’ pockets.

What Jio has done is tapped into the latent hunger for information of an average Indian by liberating her from cost to access data worries. Just in a month or two if the consumption shoots up by 40 – 50 times, it clearly shows that this is more than a transformational change.

In conclusion, Jio has obviously given much more and asked for nothing in return. Yet. Still not convinced?! Let me get make this easy for you. When the total and average consumption is 40 – 50 times more than standard (600Mb, according to studies) that would make Jio’s data serving capacity at least 4 – 10 times bigger than their nearest competition, even today with 20 million subscribers.

It’s just simple maths – 20 million x 40 data units = 800 data units (“data unit” is the average data consumption of a user on other telecom networks) while 200 million x data unit = 200 data units. This is assuming that all 200 million users of Jio’s nearest competitor are using data, which clearly not the case. Even then, this makes Jio’s capacity at least four times bigger than its nearest competitor. This should put to rest the presumption that Jio has any capacity issues; I believe the data is clearly skewed in favor of Jio and other incumbents should be worried.

Now coming to the speed test’s skewed number, much has been written about this. Ookla speed tests show a discrepancy in the speed test and actual download rates when downloading content from international servers. From what I’ve gleaned I can say there is some limitation on downloading data from those servers as Jio expects people to stay on their servers owing to their robust online app services. Another critical aspect about Jio that hasn’t been highlighted enough is the creation of robust services where initially there was none. Apps like JioTv and JioCinema are great sources of online entertainment. Most of the apps are getting rave reviews by consumers, and the rich content libraries keep them hooked, so much so that, satellite and cable TV providers will soon feel the heat because currently, all that content is available to Jio users for free. This way, your data doesn’t leave the country, and the company does not need to invest in international connectivity to provide these. It is in this context that the company’s massive last-mile connectivity makes sense.

Basically, in a country where people survived on speeds of 1 Mbps to 2 Mbps, Jio has raised the bar. So even if the speeds hare not consistent Currently, they’re typically enough for one’s daily online activities and better than any competing incumbents.

Lastly, we must remember that Jio is a telecom network and not a broadband provider and having unrealistic speed expectations in non-hotspot areas will not only hurt the telecom but the user as well. It has given the consumer a much more than any other company and forced incumbents to slash rates in a market they initially held the monopoly over; that is the effect of Jio, and I think we should be a little more patient and a lot more grateful than we currently are. I’ve seen incumbents struggle to come up with competing rates and resort to underhanded tactics like denying POI to Jio. But they must understand that competition aside, in a service driven industry, the customer always comes first.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of PhoneRadar. The story has been sent to us by our reader.

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