Business

Jio Aur Jeene Do: Reliance Launches Three Months Free Data for Rs 309

New offer comes less than a week after India’s telecom regulator “advised” the Mukesh Ambani-backed company to drop its Summer Surprise free data offer.

Reliance Jio's free data offers aren't in the best interest of India's consumers.

Reliance Jio’s free data offers aren’t in the best interest of India’s consumers.

New Delhi: Five days after retracting its ‘Summer Surprise’ offer on the advice of India’s telecom regulator, Reliance Jio is back with two new offers that give users three months worth of unlimited SMS-es, calling and data for a one-time recharge of either Rs 309 or Rs 509.

According to a company statement, the “Summer Surprise” offer has now been “fully withdrawn” – five days after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India advised the Mukesh Ambani-run company that it should withdraw it.

“Jio now announces new all unlimited plans with special benefits, exclusively for its Jio Prime members and aimed at encouraging Jio subscribers to live the digital life,” the statement said.

The two plans are priced at Rs 309 and Rs 509. Both come with unlimited SMS-es, calling and data for 3 months after the user recharges once. What’s the difference between both plans? The Rs 309 plan caps data usage at 1 GB per day at 4G speeds while the Rs 509 plan gives users 2GB per day at 4G speeds.

 The company, which last week announced that it was dropping the extended deadline for users to sign up to its Jio Prime service, also pointed out that the new “special benefits” are available to even non Jio Prime users but at a slightly higher cost.

“Considering the special benefits that are available to Jio Prime members, customers who were unable to subscribe to Jio Prime for any reason, can continue to do so by paying Rs. 408 or Rs. 608 (Jio Prime + recharge price) to avail these benefits,” the company said.

Final withdrawal of free services

In the statement, Reliance Jio also pointed out that April 15, 2017 will be the last date for its services. “These plans [Rs 309 and Rs 509] will be available starting today. Existing Jio customers who have not done their first recharge so far, need to do so by 15 April 2017 to avoid degradation and/or discontinuation of services,” the company said.

From the launch of its services in September 2016, the company has not technically charged for its services. At the end of March 2017, Reliance announced it had a little over 72 million Jio Prime users, who have paid Rs 99 to sign up for the service. Most of these users, although official numbers have not been released, are understood to also have signed up for one of Jio’s monthly packages (Rs 149 or Rs 301).

What’s different?

How do Reliance Jio’s new offer differ from its earlier Summer Surprise offer that was withdrawn? The Summer Surprise offer was available to users who had signed up for the Jio Prime service ( a Rs 99 fee) and had signed up for the Rs 301 voice and data package. However, under the Summer Surprise offer, the Rs 301 that users paid for would only kick in after the 3 months of free data had ended. It is unclear at this point whether the Rs 309 that users have to pay for the new offers will also kick in from July 1, 2017 – which is when the free data ends.

TRAI’s role?

Last week, India’s telecom regulator “advised” Reliance Jio to drop its Summer Surprise offer as it apparently didn’t fit into any particular regulatory framework. TRAI officials, in an interactions with the media including The Wire, pointed out that because the Summer Surprise offer wasn’t defined as a “promotional offer”, but rather as a “plan with special benefits”, it had to be stopped.

This logic, as experts and industry watchers have pointed out, is highly confusing.

The Department of Telecommunications has also been upset with Reliance Jio’s free offers as they have negatively impacted the government’s collection of licence fees, spectrum usage charges and service tax.