New Indian 4G Operator Offers Free Voice Calls Forever, Here’s What We Can Learn

By Awais Imran

Last week, India’s Reliance Industries launched Jio – a new nation-wide 4G LTE network that offers free and unlimited voice calls forever, the cheapest data rates, and zero roaming charges.

It is an awesome 70,000 crore INR investment in the world’s second largest telecom market where giants like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Tata and Telenor fight with one another to capture a population of over 1 billion.

Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and chairman of Reliance Industries, is behind the multi-billion dollar Jio project.

With a number of aggressive strategies, Ambani aims to capture 100 million subscribers as quickly as possible. To grasp the epic scale of Ambani’s vision, just compare his goal of 100 million subscribers with Pakistan’s total current subscriber-base: a mere 134 million. Awe-inspiring, isn’t it?

But then there’s another difference. Ambani’s business model for Reliance Jio is fairly unique – both regionally and globally.

Before we look into his strategy towards telecom business, let’s discuss Reliance Jio’s major features and pricing:


Cheapest 4G LTE Rates in the World

As a heavy user of data myself, I am most intrigued by Jio’s claim of offering the cheapest 4G LTE rates in the entire world.

Starting at an already impressive 50 INR per GB (or 78 PKR), their data rates reduce as you consume more data. Customers will even benefit from unlimited LTE data at night when networks are relatively less congested.

The idea is to meet the increasingly high data demands of India, which is a huge opportunity according to Ambani:

Jio’s mission is to meet the exploding need of data for India, and to take our nation from data shortage to data abundance.”

Human’s data needs are only going to soar in the coming decades. Ambani understands this, and is offering what people want at an unbeatable price. This is one way of attracting a hundred million customers.

Free voice calls forever

In what has to be an unprecedented move, Reliance Jio will offer completely free and unlimited voice calls forever to all local networks in India. It is a huge win for consumers, and a scary situation for competitors.

The announcement has scared the Indian telecom market, as competing telcos like Airtel and Idea rely on voice calls for majority of their revenue, just like our Pakistani telecom operators.

To give you an idea, Indian and Pakistani operators make about 70 to 85% of their revenue from voice calls.

Upper management at these companies have always been hopeful that data revenue will grow, but they would have never thought about an operator completely removing voice call revenues from its sheets.

This is probably why stocks of these companies in India went down 11% with-in a week.

Extra discounts for students

Among other little niceties, Reliance Jio will give 25% extra data for free to students to encourage Internet usage. Mukesh Ambani even went as far to say data is like Oxygen for digital life:

“Life cannot survive without oxygen; data is the oxygen of digital life. So, supply of oxygen for digital life must never be unaffordable.”

The new operator is all about meeting the data needs of digital India.


So, what’s the catch?

They say “if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product”. It’s a phrase commonly used for products like Google Search which offer their services for free in exchange for user data which they sell for ads.

if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product

It applies to Reliance Jio too.

By offering free calls forever, and the cheapest LTE data rates in the world, Jio is making a bold move in focusing solely on data as their source of revenue. Of course, in this case, “data” stands for much more than just plain 3G/4G connectivity; it also means the monetization of user data itself.

Just look around the free services that you use. Google Search, Facebook, or even ProPakistani; where you don’t pay for the service itself, but your usage data is analyzed to display targeted advertisements. You become the product!

While we are not implying that Reliance will sell user data to make money, instead — just like Google does — it will consume user data for marketing purposes to support and boost other Reliance businesses.

Reliance Retailers – Reliance Industries’ retail division – is the largest retailer in India, with yearly revenues of several billion dollars. They have thousands of stores all over the country selling everything from groceries, car parts, jewellery, apparel, electronics, home and lifestyle products and more.

With Jio — and such telecom products at unbeatable prices — there are huge opportunities for Reliance to convert its telecom subscribers into regular retail customers with initiatives like JioMoney (a digital wallet), thereby indirectly making money for Reliance Industries, the parent company.

Converting telecom subscribers into JioMoney users is a high priority for Jio; they are already running pilot programs at smaller stores across India to prepare for the next stage.

What Pakistani Operators Can Learn

I am only going to repeat what Aamir Attaa has already said before in his columns: telecom operators cannot strictly remain infrastructure providers forever. They must innovate and look for revenues streams in products and services other than plain voice calls.

Voice calls are getting over.

While not every telecom company has the luxury of having a multi-billion dollar retail business, telecom operators can create partnerships with other sectors in a natural manner to grow their revenues.

As an example, assume if ProPakistani and other brands were to pay telecom operators – and not Facebook – for fetching traffic. Just imagine the amount of money operators could make by partnering with brands all over Pakistan.

Considering the user information operators have, ProPakistani and other brands can exactly identify their segment audience and target only those who matter to them.

Even better: build your own digital (or maybe even retail) products to expand revenue base because the number of people are not going to grow in a market, but telecom operators can grow the number of products they offer to customers.

Future is in diversification —  especially with mobile apps picking up —  voice calls are not going to sustain your businesses for long.

They early you learn it, the better you will do in later years.

Writer is the co-founder of – a price comparison startup. He enjoys writing about technology, entrepreneurship, and personal growth, and is an avid UX designer

  • So they are going to earn money from user data and it isn’t simply email addresses or online preferences inferred from likes or reviews, they are gonna track the users from beds to washrooms to offices using their cell phones. It isn’t simply going to be in-organisation data use, they will most certainly sell it as well.

    • Open your google maps timeline if you are using an android phone. It will show your daily travel activity and save it without your permission. They note your phone’s every single move. You can un check this service but it will only stop showing your activity to yourself only, google will save it anyway. And don’t ask whether google is selling your info or not.

      • I am well aware of that. Supposedly a carrier has a stronger grip on the customers being the primary source of communication. That was the idea behind the above comment.

        • Every f$cking company is selling user’s data. Even in a stores like Metro and alfatah thr girls who wrote name and number of buyers who bought their products, collect and sold users data. I daily receive 20 to 30 promotional sms from different numbers who even know my name.

        • Most people agree all terms before reading. And if you disnt select this term still they save your location for their own benefits. Only You will not able to see

  • Pakistani Operators Ko bas Paise Harap Karne Aty Hain Miss Call Karo 0.10 Harap, Balance Check Karo Us Per Bhi Paise Harap, Advance Lo To Wo Bhi Sood Per Denge -_-

  • value added services and renovation is becoming the integral part of telecom sector…..other wise the same applies to them … “LIFE IS A RACE IF YOU DNT RUN FAST YOU WILL BECOME A BROKEN UNDAA (egg) 3 Idiots”

    • no.. Itz truely unlimited voice calls and free both all local & STD networks (including roaming) in India.
      Im using Jio 4G VO-LTE since 4months.. amazing speed always get 40-50Mbps..
      Jio has 10Mhz spectrum in 850mhz band, 5 to 10 mhz spectrum in 1800mhz band & 20mhz spectrum in 2300mhz band.

      and most important Jio 4G Internet also free till 31st december 2016..
      4G HD VO-LTE calls is different from 2G/3G voice calls..
      you get HD voice calls in 4G LTE networks..

        • we get 40-50Mbps speed without lte aggregation..
          In some places we already get 90Mbps+ speed without lte aggregation..
          Jio’s all towers are sub 1ghz fiber connected.

          currently, lte aggregation only start by BHARTI AIRTEL in some metro cities
          max speed upto 135Mbps..
          we heard Jio also start lte aggregation in future..

          Jio also launch fixed wireline broadband..
          speed is upto 1Gbps.. but we get 300Mbps to 400Mbps speed easily in Jio fixed wireline broadband..
          currently, Jio fixed wireline broadband is also truely unlimited free for 90 days..
          price may be starting from Rs500 INR or Rs800 INR..
          lets see what happen after 90 days of free trial..

  • and in Pakistan talk of the town is
    Raheel Shareef Zindabad
    Raheel Shareef ko extension do
    Raheeel shareef ko field marshal bana do
    Priorities are clearly different in both countries and so are the results

  • In pakistan Telenor is looting postpaid customers, by providing unlimited data usage on BIS service but not to BB10 devices users. it will only work with any 3G BB device. But Blackberry itself not mentioned this to its BIS standards.

    Dur phitay mun Telenor.

  • Well this whole article is junk, why?? because writer fails to mention that jio is a 4g centric carrier. Let me explain: they did not bought any 2g or 3g equipment, they only bought 4g equipment, only VoLTE phones can call on jio other can’t. Jio saves tons of money by not buying 2g or 3g equipment and not keeping them active too. Pakistanis can’t follow this model as they bought 2g and 3g licenses and never bothered about 4g except zong or warid.

    • you can also calls from non-VoLTE 2G/3G/4G phones..

      1) Jio launch “Jio4G voice app” search on google play store.
      This app convert your non-VoLTE phones to VO-LTE.. and you can call anyone via VOIP LTE.. Its completly IP based network..

      so, non-VoLTE phone users install “Jio4G voice app” and calls any mobile numbers in INDIA/INTERNATIONAL..

      2) now 2G & 3G smartphone users..
      Jio launch JIoFI device.. connect your 2G & 3G smartphones via (WIFI) JIoFI device..
      and install “Jio4G voice app” their phones and calls any mobile numbers via (WIFI calling) JIoFI device..
      JioFI device also use for 4G LTE internet & connect total 31 device & your smart TV..
      JioFI device price currently Rs1,999 INR.

  • VoLTE is cheaper for carriers than keeping voice on 2g or 3g so jio can offer unlimited calls. even carriers like at&t and verizon in USA are turning their 2g and 3g off to save cost.

  • T-Mobile in US is planning & will role out a 60$ fixed “UNLIMITED” data for all its customers by end of this year……. SO yeah

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