The entry of Reliance Jio 4G services in the market has created quite a hype with queues outside Reliance stores as people line up to get the new SIMs. Jio’s 4G services will be free till December 31, 2016, and the company claims it will offer the lowest data rates in the world at Rs 50 per GB. And other operators namely Airtel and Vodafone are not taking these claims lying down. Both Vodafone and Airtel claim they are offering cheaper data rates than Reliance Jio and have plans to revise their data offering, especially with the more expensive plans.
In Reliance Jio’s case, the company’s best data offering in prepaid starts at Rs 499 with 4GB data which has unlimited data offer from 2am to 5 am in the night, as well as an additional 8GB data on the Reliance Jio WiFi Hotspot. If you include the entire 12GB data (that’s the WiFi bit added as well) it comes to Rs 41 per GB, but you go with just what the pack offers which is 4GB, then it’s Rs 125 per GB.
Jio also has a 10GB data plan at Rs 999 which comes to Rs 100 per GB, but if you include the 20GB free data at JioNet WiFi hotspots, then it comes to around Rs 33.33. In Jio’s case, the most expensive plan is Rs 4,999 with 75GB+150GB data on the WiFi. These are some of the top plans across postpaid and prepaid, although in Jio’s case there are no charges for voice-calling or roaming charges, which an advantage.
The problem is the free WiFi bit is tricky; to access it you need to go to a public Reliance Jio WiFi hotspot and use the JioFi Net app to get the extra data. If there’s no WiFi hotspot close to your house, that extra data ends up serving no purpose. A public WiFi hotspot in India will mean a lot more crowds, depending on the location, and could result in reduced speeds. Reliance has tested JioFi hotspots during IPL at some key stadiums in cities like Delhi, Mumbai; but it remains to be seen how widespread these will be across the country.
Additionally, the company says it won’t deduct data used in voicecalls from the regular data pack. However, data used in video calls made from Jio will count from your regular data pack.
Both Vodafone and Airtel have questioned how reliable voice calls will be on Reliance Jio’s network which relies on 4G VoLTE technology for all calls. The companies claim a better rural coverage, and argue that in case a user has no 4G access, calls won’t go through, while their services are more stable with established 2G/3G networks as a fallback option.
In Reliance Jio’s case, the network deploys VoLTE which stands for Voice over Long Term Evolution (LTE), and is actually a subset of LTE technology. VoLTE ensures voice calls are sent over data packets, and users will need a VoLTE enabled smartphone, although as we have pointed out in another article this support can be sent via a software upgrade by most smartphone manufacturers.
However, Airtel and Vodafone are also challenging Jio’s claims of offering cheap data. Airtel is offering 10 GB data at Rs 1000, and 20GB data at Rs 2000 for postpaid users, but this is in addition to other packs you’ll have to get for voice-calling. Costlier plans that have a tariff of Rs 2,999, Rs 3,999 and Rs 4,999 will soon see revised data packs, says Airtel.
If you go to Airtel’s website, the data rates look something like for 4G under the ‘My Infinity Plans’: 3GB at Rs 1098. 5GB at Rs 1749, 7GB at Rs 2249 and 15GB at Rs 3249 under their prepaid section for 4G. In case of postpaid, Airtel’s current plans postpaid starts at Rs 949 for 1GB going up all the way to Rs 2999 for 20GB. These plans include a subscription to Airtel’s Wynk Music, Movies etc.
Also read: Reliance Jio 4G SIM: Here’s how to purchase, verify and activate
Airtel also has other 4G plans which are not under the ‘my infinity’ ones, where the charges are just for data. In this case of prepaid, 1GB data starts at Rs 93 with only 2 days validity, going up all the way to Rs 1555 for 12GB data with 28-day validity. For postpaid, the rates for 4G data start at Rs 150 for 500 MB, 1GB at Rs 250 and going up all the way to Rs 2000 for 20GB. The last one still works out to Rs 100 per GB. It’s not clear when Airtel plans to revise these prices.
In Vodafone’s case, the data prices start at 300 MB for Rs 100, 1GB data at Rs 250, 3GB at Rs 450 , 5GB at Rs 650 and going up to Rs 3999 for 40GB, Rs 4999 for 60 GB. Vodafone says when a user exhausts the set Internet limit on some of these ‘unlimited’ data packs, the speed is reduced to 40kbps, and a user is not charged for the extra data. Vodafone also has plans to revise their data offerings.
With Reliance Jio, the advantage so far has been the high-speeds, something which has not always been possible with other operators. However, it remains to be seen how the service performs once the beta testing phase is over, and has a lot more customers on board.