Reliance is planning a massive blitz in the Indian telecom and broadband sector with Jio, which will open its door to customers in the country by the end of 2015.
Rivals Airtel and Vodafone are already gearing up for a price war as Reliance Jio has already started detailing plans to launch 4G compatible smartphones for as low as Rs 4,000 and offering voice and data service from Rs 300 – 500 per month.
The Indian telecom market is already ultra-competitive, forcing operators to offer the lowest mobile tariffs in the world. The launch of Reliance Jio will be followed by a new round of price wars, aiding customers but hurting operator margins.
Reliance is the largest holder of spectrum in India and is the first company to hold a pan-India license. Apart from entering the telephony and digital broadband space, the company also plans to roll out a range of online services ranging from payments to IPTV.
Jio is already present in 29 states of India, covering 18,000 towns and cities. By the end of the year, the service will cover 80% of India’s population and the company plans to have complete national coverage within the next three years.
So far, Reliance Jio has laid 25,000 km of fibre optic cables across the country and plans to add twice that length of cable in three years. It estimates that by April next year, 1 million homes will be connected by fibre, and the company will then scale up to 50 cities rapidly.
Apart from being just a network operator, Reliance Jio will also have multiple services:
Jio Chat – is an IM client that supports texting and voice and video calling. Users will also be able to send files, photos and videos. Jio Chat will go head to head with services such as WhatsApp and Telegram.
Switch-and-Walk – is an app that will enable users to switch phones while handling transfer of contacts, messages, media and applications with just a few clicks.
Jio Drive – is a cloud storage and backup services that will be similar to Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud.
Jio Play – is a live streaming service with a variety of channels that will serve up Bollywood, Hollywood, and regional content.
Jio Beats – is a music streaming service similar to Gaana or even Spotify.
Jio Mags – is an e-reader app that will give users access to popular magazines.
Jio News – is a platform where users will be able to get the latest news from across major publishers, serving multiple categories and languages.
Jio Devices – With the network and content in place, Reliance will launch devices (mostly through partner manufacturers) that will support 4G bands and will cost as little as Rs 4,000.
While these services will be going head to head with many bigger and more established apps and services, Reliance could have the upper hand by making them zero-rated services, meaning consumers wouldn’t have to pay for data charges in order to use them.
The move will attract more users to its network as well as could drive revenues through a subscription model, especially when it comes to serving online magazines, music streaming and viewing TV and movie content.