A couple of months ago posting screenshots of blazing fast internet speeds on Reliance Jio on social media was a trend. Being an Airtel customer for over four years, I envied these Jio users. I never switched to Reliance Jio, but that urge to experience something better, and that too for free made me believe Jio is finally the hero India s growing data-hungry population needed. Jio gave users access to its full fledged services under its Welcome Offer under which it was providing its bouquet of services for absolutely free. And no wonder, people thronged stores across the country to get Reliance 4G SIM cards. In September, Jio finally launched its 4G services commercially and as a “Welcome Offer” gave away all its services for free. This included up to 4GB of internet usage every day, unlimited voice calling, SMS and even its services like live TV streaming, movies and music on demand and others. No wonder, within 26 days of commercial launch Jio has 16 million subscribers, which it claims is a world record. Also Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAIAlso Read - Airtel launches new Rs 456 prepaid plan: Check data, validity, call and other benefits
But how significant is the 16 million users base milestone? Does it even mean anything, considering everyone is currently using Jio as part of a free scheme? Of course, terms like world record and 16 million subscribers are fancy, and apt for press releases and marketing gimmicks. Mukesh Ambani also announced the company’s ambition of reaching 100 million subscribers in the shortest period of time, which, as expected, made headlines. But these numbers are meaningless if Jio cannot meet the expectations of its users, like it is failing now. Also Read - Jio Freedom Plans 2021: Jio launches 5 new prepaid plans with no daily data limit - check details
A few weeks ago, I had written about why subscribers should not leave their telecom operator and use Reliance Jio as their primary connection. One of the first points I had mentioned was the issue of call drops and call failures. The issue still exists and Jio users are still finding it impossible to connect to users on other networks. Reliance itself acknowledges 16 million call drops on its network, and looking at the ongoing tussle between Jio and rival network operators, the problem ain t getting fixed anytime sooner. It does not matter to the user whether the problem is at Jio’s end or with other carriers. What they see is they cannot make any calls while people on other networks are not facing any problem. Considering it is a free service right now, they probably don’t mind using it as a secondary SIM for the free data. But come January 1, when the services go paid, would anyone take the plunge to go with Jio? ALSO READ:Airtel says it has provided enough PoI, blames call drops on Reliance Jio s lack of preparation
Another apprehension I had raised was internet speed, which was likely to come down as more people hopped on to the network. And that is happening now, with most users complaining about slow internet speeds. Even Ookla, the company behind Speedtest.net has revealed that Jio’s average internet speed, based on Speedtest.net tests carried out by Jio users, has been falling. At the time of commercial launch, Mukesh Ambani had claimed about how Jio’s all-IP network was futureproof and prepared for high volume data usage. However, the claims are now falling flat as with just 16 million subscribers Jio’s network seem to be crumbling. I wonder what will happen when it has 100 million users? ALSO READ: Ookla s speedtest report shows Reliance Jio s declining 4G internet speeds
But a lot of people are currently very patient with Jio s inconsistency. People don t really mind the quality of services right now, because it s free. Right now, a lot of customers are using Jio as their secondary number as most of them have dual-SIM numbers. This helps users get onboard with Jio s ecosystem,” Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpart Research suggests. “But that said, the real test will happen when people will start to pay for the services, starting January 1. It is very similar to the trend of new handset players coming to the Indian market through e-commerce channel. They quickly hit the million milestone, but the real challenge comes when they have to sustain the growth, and convert the momentum into success, he adds.
Dear Mr Ambani, I admire that Jio has reached 16 million subscribers in less than a month. We also like how Jio is making all the right moves, like making voice calling free and focusing on data. And the cheap data plans, oh yes, that’s absolutely great, especially considering that incumbent operators have been forced to treat data as a premium service and charge exorbitantly for them. But those promises are going to do users any good only if you are able to deliver them. And the way things are, forget free calls, one cannot make any calls from a Jio number. The data speeds, they have vanished into thin air.
So here’s a request, before sprinting off to acquire the remaining 84 million subscribers in your race to 100 million, how about looking out for the current 16 million? Fix your network, get an arrangement with other networks and deliver what you promised at your AGM in September. If you are able to deliver your promises, forget 100 million, a billion Indians would come on Jio’s network.