The world’s second-largest smartphone market just got the world’s cheapest 4G data plan. A new carrier known as Jio has emerged from Reliance, one of India’s largest companies, and it’s slated to drastically change the mobile market in the country. The 4G LTE network promises transfer speeds of up to 135 Mbps, free voice calls and roaming throughout India, and apparently, cheaper data rates than anyone else.
Announced Thursday after rather extensive delays and testing, Reliance Jio promises to be “future proof,” as it’s already planning to support upcoming 5G and 6G networks. Currently, its 4G coverage is accessible in 18,000 Indian cities, and more than 200,000 remote areas. The hope is that 90 percent of India’s population will be fully covered by 2017.
Mukesh Ambani, Reliance’s chairman and the richest man in India, noted, “India and Indians cannot afford to be left behind,” Ambani said. “The era of paying for voice calls is ending.” Jio’s move, while likely lauded by India’s citizenry, could pose a problem for India’s other carriers, which include Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea, and which all derive most of their revenues from voice calls. Now that Jio will be giving free voice calls, these guys may be in trouble.
Jio will also be offering 4G-compatible handsets starting at the low price of $45, and wireless routers starting at $30. The new carrier also plans on implementing student discounts and avoiding extra charges on major holidays (which again, will differentiate Jio from competitors).
“While all the existing players were hoping to improve revenue-wise from increased adoption and usage of data services,” Faisal Kawoosa, Senior Analyst with CyberMedia Research India told Mashable India, “[Jio] comes into the picture with latest of technology which is a real converged service platform based on IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) technology allowing them to definitely operate at a lower OPEX as you are not managing multiple platforms for each of the service for consumers.”
So get ready, India. The mobile game may finally be changing.