India just received what can be considered a “best of both the worlds” in the form of Mukesh Ambani’s announcement of free calls and texts over the JIO network and the elimination of any roaming fee. This model has been prevalent in the United States and has worked beautifully for its consumers, the only downside being the exorbitant rentals. Reliance Jio customers get benefits of no roaming charges, free night-time data and even free calls and messages all day long, but with the rock bottom prices that the country has never seen before.
All current mobile operators offer convoluted tariffs on calls and messaging, with various segments such as within the same network, from the subscriber’s network to any other cellular network and then from subscriber’s network to landline. Messaging tariffs have also three segments and factor in roaming and you’ll be completely clueless on how much are you actually paying. For the last few years, many of us have left our billing to the mercy of the carriers, blindly trusting them to charge us what is right.
Today, Mukesh Ambani gave the power back to the people by announcing no more charges for roaming or any domestic calls and messages. Subscribe to any one of the various seven plans ranging from Rs 149 to Rs. 4999 and you reap the benefits of the cheapest 4G-LTE data rates the world has ever seen, but also do not have to deal with the hassle of wondering if you are going to be charged anything extra just because you left your circle. The plans are of course subject to applicable taxes, but it would come as a comfort to millions of users to know that they won’t be overcharged or be in a situation where they’ve run out of data and their carrier is going to fleece them just for another extra gigabyte. Gone are the days of paying extra for using your phone in another city.
We live in times when people prefer Skype or Facetime over calls and messaging on Facebook or Whatsapp over the traditional SMS, Reliance has made an incredibly smart move to ration the power of its telecom network. While the urban and heavy users with the latest smartphones would gradually start moving to video calling apps (for their immersive experience and no cost), this would leave a good chunk of the network’s capacity to handle actual voice and SMS data which can be expected from those who are still using the traditional means. A person who does not have a 4G phone can buy the Reliance JioFi and get access to the entire host of services offered by the network through various apps.
Reliance’s move to cut the price of 4G-LTE services to a tenth of prevailing rates has definitely ruffled feathers amongst other operators. With free calls and messages, things are bound to heat up as the consumer always wants to spend as little as possible and get as much as he can for it. With Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, the three leading telecom operators, charging users for everything and still giving what can be considered mediocre (at best) service, the announcement is going to either drive everyone’s tariffs down into the ground or it will push the existing operators to seriously beef up the quality of their service. At the end of the day, it is a much needed win-win for the consumer who had been getting jack-hammered by the telecom operators charging us plenty of money for poor service.