The story of Reliance Jio dates back to sometime in 2010, with rumours doing the rounds that one of the biggest conglomerates in India would be making a re-entry in the telecom industry. After revolutionizing the Indian telecom industry back in 2002, Reliance Industries was being rumoured to announce its comeback in the telecom sector.
However, that wouldn’t happen for another 5 years, when late in December 2015 Reliance Jio started beta-testing its service. The first public beta tests went live in the next six months, with the new service provider starting its commercial operations from September 2016.
Reliance Jio changes the rules of the game
As was widely expected, Reliance Jio’s arrival was the second big revolution in India’s telecom sector. However, this time around, Reliance focused on high-speed data instead of voice and SMS – the company announced data plans with 1GB 4G data per day in a market where some of the more popular plans provided 1GB data per month.
In a price-sensitive market like India, this move was a game-changer. Until then, incumbent service providers would charge anything between Rs. 250-350 for 1GB of 4G LTE data, with separate charges for voice, SMS and roaming services. However, Reliance Jio was here to turn the game on its head and started off with extremely low prices for data services, bringing down the price of 4G LTE data to under Rs. 5 per GB during the initial promotions.
Incumbent operators strike back
However, incumbent telecom operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have been responding with their own plans to compete with Reliance Jio’s plans. As a result, subscribers of these operators can now enjoy similar benefits of unlimited data and free voice calls.
To make their offerings even better, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have recently announced free outgoing roaming calls with their plans, bringing them on par with Reliance Jio’s plans.
Airtel 1GB data per day plans
For example, Airtel recently announced a couple of plans to compete with similar offerings from Reliance Jio. Taking on Jio’s Rs. 399 plan, the telco announced a Rs. 448 plan that offers 1GB 4G/3G data per day along with unlimited voice calls, outgoing roaming calls and SMS, with a validity of 70 days.
In addition to this, Airtel has also started rolling out 4G VoLTE services which should help its customers enjoy improved voice call quality, adding another feature in its services to take on Reliance Jio.
Vodafone 1GB data per day plans
Vodafone has also announced a new Rs. 349 plan that offers the same 1GB 4G/3G data per day along with unlimited voice calls and free outgoing roaming calls, albeit with a 28 days validity. In addition to data and voice benefits, Vodafone also gives a free subscription to VF Play which is a mobile streaming app.
Idea 1GB data per day plans
For its part, even Idea has joined the bandwagon and announced its own 1GB data per day plans starting at Rs. 398, and these plans come with free outgoing roaming calls too.
Should you still switch to Reliance Jio?
Essentially, all the incumbent operators have harmonised their plans to offer benefits similar to Reliance Jio’s plans. Apart from similar benefits, these incumbent operators, especially Airtel, may have better network coverage when compared to Jio, especially while traveling. Moreover, Airtel and Vodafone now offer data rollover benefits in some plans, allowing customers to enjoy their data allowances in a much better way. This is something that Reliance Jio does not offer, yet.
So, at the end of the day, the question arises – should you still switch to Reliance Jio?
With incumbent operators having caught up with Reliance Jio’s offerings, switching to Reliance Jio does not make as much sense as it did a few months ago. Sure, some plans may be slightly more expensive with these operators, but at the end of the day, they don’t seem to be expensive enough to deal with the hassle of switching to a new operator.