Compared with Jio’s user base, overall market leader Bharti Airtel had 41 million 3G and 4G customers as of September 30.
Sources said that Jio adding almost 1000 customers a minute was far more than the industry had expected, with analysts expecting it to clock between 10 million and 40 million by end of this fiscal year through March.
Reliance Jio, which launched commercially on September 5, has been quite the disruptor in the telecom market with its free voice calls for life and free data till end of 2016, moves that forced incumbents to slash their prices as well.
Jio though complained of high instances of call failures and blamed incumbents such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular of not providing it adequate points of interconnection (PoIs) to stymie its operations and acting in an anti-competitive manner.
But as of first week of November, the instances of call failures on the Jio network have dipped to little substantially with India’s largest telcos, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, releasing additional PoIs.
Jio’s 4G launch had been six years in the making. RIL re-entered the telecom sector by acquiring a company that had bought pan-India 4G spectrum in the 2300 MHz band in 2010. But, technological challenges related to the frequency led to delays. It subsequently acquired airwaves in other frequencies and now has the highest quantum of 4G spectrum across the 800 MHz, 1,800 MHz and 2,300 MHz bands.
The only telco in India that offers VoLTE to make calls, Jio is targetting 100 million in the shortest time, equivalent to about 38% of market leader Bharti Airtel’s 260 million subscribers in the country.
Jio launched operations for its employees and its partners late December 2015, and subsequently rolled out its preview offer giving voice and data services for free for three months for owners of the sister company Reliance Retail’s LYF branded phones.
In a presentation to parent company-Reliance Industries, the telco said it added 90-95% subscribers through Aadhaar based e-KYC across 4059 towns and cities. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh were the foremost states in adopting Jio services.
Reliance Jio was preparing to launch feature phones with 4G capability, creating a new category of mobile devices in India in a bid to attract millions of users. The telco is looking to price these phones at Rs 1,000 and bundle them with unlimited voice and video calling, besides digital content. The company will offer the feature phones with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, seeking to win over customers from the rural and tier-3 markets who use phones mainly to make calls.