Reliance Jio, the 4G only telecom service from Mukesh Ambani, began commercial operations in India on September 5, 2016. Since the service went live, the company has changed the way India consumes data and talks with fellow countrymen. The greenfield LTE network was being tested by its employees starting December 28, 2015 and has turned India into a data intensive country. The commercialization of Jio has also helped Ambani become the richest man in Asia. Since its inception, Jio has graduated from a telecom service provider to a 4G feature phone maker to a broadband service provider. In fact, the company sees it just as a start and is poised to grow further with new subscribers joining the network almost every other month. The company recently completed two years and here is a look at all the milestones it has achieved so far:
February 2017: Reliance Jio reaches 100 million subscribers
Reliance Jio started its commercial operations on September 5, 2016 and within five months, it reached 100 million subscribers. This is the fastest growth ever for a telecom service provider and Jio said it grew faster than Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform. The company began operations by offering free data and voice calls for the first three months and later extended it by another three months, which became lucrative for a lot of smartphone users. Initially, people stood in queue to get Jio SIM cards and even purchase LYF-branded devices to access Jio’s network.
April 2017: Paid subscription plans and Prime membership
Reliance Jio ran its free service from September 2016 to March 2017 and switched to a paid model in April. At the end of March, it announced that customers will have to subscribe to Prime membership by paying annual fee of Rs 99 and migrated all of its subscribers to a paid model where users paid Rs 399 and got subscription for 84 days. At that time, Jio offered 1GB data per day or a total of 84GB and was considered to be the cheapest plan for a gigabyte of data.
June 2017: Reliance Jio reaches 200 million subscribers
In June 2017, nine months after the launch of its commercial service, Reliance Jio announced that it has reached 200 million subscribers. This is the fastest any company has reached that many subscribers or users on a platform. Jio has been growing faster than social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. The company announced the milestone just weeks ahead of its annual general meeting where it announced the next chapter.
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July 2017: JioPhone launched at AGM
On July 21, 2017, Mukesh Ambani announced JioPhone, the first 4G feature phone in the world. Till the launch of JioPhone, Reliance Jio had served as the service provider but it wanted to be both provider for network as well as device. The launch of JioPhone was aimed directly at tier 2 and tier 3 cities and Jio said there are 500 million feature phone users in the country who are deprived of 4G service. The JioPhone became an instant best-seller in the country, which was not surprising.
July 2018: JioPhone 2 launched with QWERTY keyboard
After the launch of JioPhone, Reliance Jio had been steadily growing in the Indian smartphone market. It beat incumbent players and declared profit with an average revenue per user higher than that of its rivals. In order to further consolidate its lead, Jio launched JioPhone 2, a device with QWERTY keyboard and support for 4G network. The device, Jio said, will make it easier to type messages or make social post.
September 2018: Jio users 240 crore GB of data consumers
In September 2018, Reliance Jio completed two years as a telecom service provider and thus changed the shape of data usage in the country. The company announced at a previous event that mobile data consumption went up from 20 crore GB per month to nearly 370 crore GB per month. It said Jio users alone were consuming nearly 240GB data per month. The staggering numbers still serve as a testament to why Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are reporting drop in revenue and are making data plans affordable.
September 2018: JioPhone gets WhatsApp support
A year after Reliance Jio launched the JioPhone, the company announced its plan to make its feature phone smarter. One of the big plans was to bring services such as WhatsApp, Facebook and others to the platform. In September, JioPhone officially began supporting WhatsApp, the social messaging platform used by over 250 million users in the country. JioPhone, at the time of writing, supports WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, Google Assistant to name a few.
October 2018: Reliance Jio reaches 250 million subscribers
In October, a report from TRAI detailing the subscriber base revealed that Jio now had 250 million subscribers. The service provider is the third largest telecom player in the country behind Vodafone Idea Ltd and Bharti Airtel. These numbers were based on period endingh September 2018 and in September alone, it registered 5.44 percent growth in its subscriber base.
October 2018: JioPhone sales reach 60 million units
Reliance Jio is estimated to have sold 60 million JioPhone in India since it started selling the smart feature phone in July 2017. The JioPhone has proven particularly popular in rural markets and the company commands more than one third of the market share in the feature phone segment. Counterpoint Research said that feature phones are still relevant and shipments grew for the fourth straight quarter.
October 2018: Jio acquires Hathway and JioGigaFiber link
Reliance Jio has ventured beyond network operations and sales of feature phones and announced JioGigaFiber, its broadband service bringing wired internet to homes at AGM this year. In October, the Mukesh Ambani-led company acquired Hathway and majority stake in Den Networks to strengthen last mile connectivity. The JioGigaFiber service is being tested with a small set of users and is expected to become commercially available sometime next month.