Reliance Jio is extending its free service promotion across the summer, adding an extra three months during which its subscribers can access free voice and data.
The newcomer Indian operator has also pushed back the deadline for joining its Prime membership service by two weeks. Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani cited the huge numbers of subscribers attracted by the tariffs as the reason for extending the promotion.
Ambani also revealed the Jio Summer Surprise offer, which provides three months of free service to any Prime members who purchase their first recharge before 15th April. He noted that: “the Jio Summer Surprise will be the first of many surprises for Prime members”, adding that the premium service had attracted 72 million subscribers in a little more than five weeks.
Jio’s Prime membership service requires a signup fee of INR99 ($1.48), then provides free voice and unlimited data for a year at a rate of INR303 per month. Jio announced the service in February at the same time that it revealed the deadline for its free service offering.
The newcomer’s rivals will be rankled by the extension of its free service offer. Vodafone India and Idea Cellular both complained to India’s regulator TRAI as well as the country’s competition agency regarding the legality of Jio’s first extension of its free data promotion in December 2016.
While the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) agreed that consumers generally benefit from lower prices, it also noted that delivering services free of charge could constitute a violation of tariff regulations. It observed that this matter would require the judgment of India’s courts and telecom tribunal.
COAI director general Rajan Mathews said: “the industry will continue to bleed under this pricing, and there is the risk of cascading impact on the banks, government and equipment manufacturers”.
Jio’s investment into its network currently sits at INR2 trillion ($15.3 billion). It has deployed 100,000 mobile towers and is aiming to double that number this year.