I’m a non-Reliance Jio mobile customer. I’ve been using a mobile device for a little under 15 years. And for over a decade, I’ve been a postpaid customer. Back then, mobile tariffs were steep. Whether due to my limited affordability, or prevalent market rates, they were tough on the pocket. It meant dealing with hefty bills at the end of the month, and wondering how to pay up surprise billed amounts. Times have changed now. The telecom industry has pretty much turned around full circle. These are the days of GBs in data allowances per month, and per day.
Back then, it was the advent of Reliance India Mobile, which transformed India’s interface with telecommunications. ‘Kar lo duniya mutthi mein,’ as the offering was pitched. It enabled fruit vendors, autorickshaw drivers and the like to finally have a mobile phone with them. The rest of us, who didn’t quite feel the need for one, suddenly found ourselves finding the most affordable handset, and getting ourselves a SIM card.
Fast forward to 2018. A couple of years after the launch of Reliance Jio services, India is once again looking at the onslaught of tariff. What Reliance India Mobile did to voice, Reliance Jio is doing to data. Voice is now an underscoring factor. It’s a given. You may pay, or not pay based on your operator. But largely speaking, the industry norm is to offer unlimited free voice. Mobile tariffs too are getting aggressive by the day.
I’ve been living a Jio-free life over the past couple of years. Many of my friends have flirted with it, but somehow coverage, and varying data speeds combined by the prospect of questionable roaming pacts in other geographies have dissuaded me from taking the first step of moving to India’s youngest and fiercest operator, just yet.
The need for speed
I have a need for speed. Data speed, so to speak. Slow internet has a direct impact on my overall state of mind. I am the modern day internet addict. And there’s nothing I can do about it. Whether the pressures of work, or the need to unwind, in everything I am data (speed) driven. In such a scenario, what I would otherwise do with my existing operator has traditionally costed me a lot. A year ago, data packs by most operators were costing in the vicinity of Rs 1,000 a month. It’s easy to say that these prices have come down to a little under half of that.
My grouse through last year was that operators were ignoring postpaid customers. When Reliance Jio was starting out, many of my friends decided to part ways with operators such as Vodafone and Airtel. Some of them decided to use a Reliance Jio connection for their secondary number. I remember briefly considering a JioFi dongle, considering it also offered the possibility of placing voice calls. But then somehow it all feels all the more inconvenient to me. The idea of having yet another device to charge, yet another bill to pay, and all of that seems pretty inconvenient to say the least.
Quality of service
Wouldn’t it be great if our existing connections would deliver the speeds we expect, with the stability we expect? We’d just have to rely on our primary connections and life would be good. We could simply use hotspots on our existing connections without the stress of how much it would cost us.
I expect all of that to happen with the newest push towards postpaid by Reliance Jio. Incumbent operators will need to get more competitive in that area as well. I’m hopeful other operators would get their act together, and focus on quality of service, call drops, voice clarity and what we all expect from our telecom service providers.
As a market, India is still primarily prepaid driven, and hence most exciting plans have been catered towards prepaid customers. With Reliance Jio’s recent step of targeting postpaid customers, I believe Vodafone, Airtel and existing postpaid customers would finally get some much needed attention. Till then, I’m still holding on to the urge to get on to Jio.