Buoyed by Reliance Jio growing faster than Facebook and WhatsApp in first three months of launch to reach 52 million customer base, India's richest man Mukesh Ambani today announced extension of free domestic voice calls and data till March 31.
With over 52 million customers taking Jio's free voice and data since its launch on September 4, he announced 'Jio Happy New Year Offer' of free data, voice, video and applications till March 31 for new users joining from December 4 as well as the existing ones.
However, the plan will come with a Fair Usage Policy (FUP) which will cap data for Reliance Jio customers at around 1 GB per day.
A service to home delivery of Reliance Jio SIM cards was also announced.
Ambani, 59, also announced a rollout of Jio Money Merchant Solutions, a mobile payment application, for enabling digital payment for small merchants at their various points of transactions.
"Jio has become the fastest growing technology company, not only in India, but in the history of the world! In the first three months since its birth, Jio has grown faster than Facebook, WhatsApp or Skype," he said.
Jio has crossed 50 million customers in first 83 days (user base now is over 52 million).
"Starting 4th of December, 2016, every new Jio user will get Jio's data, voice, video and the full bouquet of Jio applications and content, absolutely free till March 31, 2017," he said, adding that the benefit will also be extended to the existing users.
Ambani, who had more than a decade ago left the telecom business to younger brother Anil when the Reliance empire their father had created was split, formally re-entered the sector in September, offering free voice call for life and free data till December 31.
After that, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd was to offer data for Rs 50 per GB and a monthly plan for as low as Rs 149.
Justifying the change in FUP, he said 20 per cent of users consuming disproportionately high amount of data, leading to congestion in network.
"During this period, Jio customers will also be able to test-drive Jio's digital recharge and billing experience, especially using the JioMoney wallet," he said.
According to Ambani, Jio has already crossed 50 million customers in the three months since launch on September 1.
Ambani, whose company had a bitter war of words with dominant incumbent telecom operators like Bharti Airtel over providing points of interconnection, said lack of support from existing operators had resulted in nearly 900 crore voice calls to other networks being blocked. "The benefits of Jio's superior voice technology have been denied to Indian customers due to such anti-competitive behaviour of incumbent operators," he said, adding that because of intervention of authorities, the call block rate has come down to nearly 20 per cent as of yesterday from over 90 per cent. "We are working with all our fellow operators to ensure that in coming weeks, this will come below the specified grade of service, which is 0.2 per cent," he said. Stating that Jio's network is built for capacity and speed, he said few issues with data speeds were faced on the network because of 50 million customers taking full advantage of the free welcome offer.
About 8 per cent of Jio towers have experienced congestion due to abnormally high data usage and work is on to de-congest these. "On the whole, Jio is not only delivering 4 times more data than all other Indian telecom operators combined, but also much faster throughputs than any other mobile network in India," he said. With the imminent availability of sufficient points of interconnect from other operators over coming weeks, Jio customers will be able to experience a flawless voice experience, he asserted. Ambani said that on average, a Jio customer is using 25 times more data than the average Indian broadband user. "A Jio customer today is consuming data on par with, and in many cases more than, sophisticated users anywhere in the world." Jio has signed up over 6 lakh customers every single day for the past three months because of Aadhaar-based eKYC rollout nationally that allowed SIM activation in under 5 minutes. It has rolled out eKYC across 2 lakh outlets, nearly equal to total number of ATMs in the country, and will double these to 4 lakh digitally enabled outlets by March 2017. JioMoney app will give access to a digital money wallet that is linked to the user's bank account. "One of the key drivers for adoption of digital money and the cashless way of living is people's ability to convert physical cash into digital cash and vice-versa," he said, adding that JioMoney is expanding its reach to millions of touchpoints where Aadhar based micro-ATMs will be deployed. It will enable digital transactions of all types like those made at mandis, small shops, restaurants, railway ticket counters, for bus and mass transit and even person-to-person money transfers. Customers use their JioMoney Wallets to pay merchants from their bank accounts and merchants can use the app to accept these payments directly into their bank accounts. "JioMoney is focused on signing up over 10 million small merchant retailers in coming weeks across 17,000 towns and 4 lakh villages," he said.