Storming his way into the telecom industry, India's richest man Mukesh Ambani on Thursday announced free voice calls and free national roaming along with rock- bottom data prices on his new Reliance Jio network that will debut on September 5.
"World over, operators charge only for data, so voice and SMS is free. In a revolutionary concept for the Indian market, all the voice calls for Jio customers will be absolutely free," Ambani said.
"The era of pain for voice calls has ended. No Jio customer will ever pay for voice call again. Roaming charges will also be zero," he reiterated.
This is applicable for all the domestic calls made. International calls will be chargeable but Ambani said Jio will make the most affordable international call rates available for its customers.
The company will not be charging for voice calls at all, and it will charge a tenth of what its competitors are charging for 4G data, Ambani said - it was announced that Jio will charge only 5 paise per MB, or Rs. 50 per GB. What's more, the greater the usage, the lower the cost will be, and the rates could go down to Rs. 25 per GB.
Ambani said the tariff was based on three pillars: one, the customer should play for only voice or data; two, data must be affordable; and, three, pricing structure should be simple. So Reliance Jio won’t charge for voice calls, data prices will be what Ambani calls the "cheapest in the world” and there will be just 10 tariff plans to choose from.
The Jio 4G tariffs start at Rs. 149 for 28 days, for 300MB. For Rs. 499 per month you get a big step up, to 4GB of 4G data, plus unlimited 4G at night, for 28 days. You'll also get 8GB of access from Reliance Jio's upcoming network of Wi-Fi hotspots, further increasing the amount of data you can use. For Rs. 999, that goes up to 10GB of 4G data and 20GB of Wi-Fi usage, plus unlimited usage at night. Further plans are for Rs. 1,499 for 20GB, Rs. 2,499 for 35GB, and Rs. 3,999 for 60GB of 4G data, and twice as much Wi-Fi usage respectively. The most expensive plan is for Rs. 4,999 for 75GB of 4G usage plus unlimited 4G usage at night, and 150GB of Wi-Fi data. These are all pre-paid tariffs, and Jio has not revealed its post-paid plans.
All data services will free till December 31, 2016 after which users will be able to choose their tariff plan. The free services will start September 5, he said, though they have been free for all users for a few months now. Ambani called it the Jio welcome offer, the best anyone was offered anywhere in the world.
There's a special 25% extra data for students which can be availed by showing the college identity card, and there are enterprise-corporate deals too.
He didn't mince words when talking about the competition, asking them "not to misuse their market power by creating unfair hurdles, when it comes to providing points of interconnect between their networks and Jio's networks".
Telecom operators not only have legal obligation to provide points of interconnect to other operators but also cannot limit customers' right to migrate to Jio using Mobile Number Portability, he said.
Ambani said the launch will transform India from a high priced data market to having the lowest data rates anywhere in the world.
Ambani said the Jio apps subscription worth Rs 15,000 will be complimentary to customers up to December 31, 2017.
The company also announced 4G smartphones starting from Rs 2,999.
Arch rival and the largest mobile operator in the country Bharti Airtel welcomed Reliance Jio's "entry to the digital world" and said as a responsible operator it will fulfil all regulatory obligations as always.