The data tariff war has officially begun.

In a landmark announcement, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries (RIL), Mukesh Ambani announced that customers on their telecom network Reliance Jio would have unlimited free voice calling. This will also extend to national roaming.

Apart form this, Jio will provide a ‘welcome offer’ with free unlimited access to data and voice calls for those customers who haven’t still tried out the network; however Ambani did not mention whether this is available via free SIM cards or through bundled offers while purchasing smartphones. This welcome offer starts from September 5th to December 31st. Note that  Jio’s test network is already present in 18,000 cities and towns, and over 2 lakh villages.

Customers will be charged Rs 50 per GB of data on their telecom network Jio. This translates to 5 paise per MB. He announced tariffs starting from Rs 149 for 0.3 GB of data with validity of 28 days. The whole plans from Jio are shown here below:

Jio pricing

In contrast, Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator,  introduced two 3G/4G recharge packs worth Rs 748 and Rs 1498 which offer 1GB data valid for 28 days. After this data limit has been reached, Airtel has 2 more packs priced at Rs 51 and Rs 99 for 1GB 3G/4G data without an expiry date, which can be “topped up” of sorts to the previous data pack.

Idea offers 3G data recharges of Rs 7- 2,000 for 25MB to 20GB, while Vodafone offers 3G packs at Rs 14 to Rs 4000 for 40MB to 40GB in Delhi.

Following the announcement, Airtel and Idea’s shares plunged on the Bombay Stock Exchange. At the time of writing, Airtel’s share price was down 6.6% at Rs 309.55 while Idea’s was down 8.24% at Rs 85.75. 

Interconnect with other telecom networks

Ambani also asked other telecom operators that they must not use their existing dominant position and ensure that there is fair play with new entrants in the telecom business. He added that 5 crore calls from Jio’s network were choked due to interconnect issues.

JioWiFi and data offloading: The company plans to roll out 1 million WiFIhotspots across the country, and and additional 30,000 hotspots/broadband connections will be setup at schools and colleges. However, it is not clear whether these hotspots are free or available for a fee. Ambani pointed out that Jio users can also connect to these WiFi hotspots and choose to pay via their existing data balance.

Registration of SIM cards: Jio will rollout Aadhaar-based eKYC verification for SIM cards, which will allow existing test users and new users to registerthemselves on the permanent networkinstantly within 15 minutes. However, Ambani did not mention when the permanent network will be rolled out. Post launch, SIM cards can be also be ordered online and home delivery will be provided.

IP-based networks and Devices: Reliance Jio is built on a fully IP-based network built on 4G LTE and will host calls only on Voice over LTE (VoLTE). Ambani also unveiled new LYF smartphones at prices ranging from Rs 2,999; 3,999; 4,999; 5,999. For users who wish to continue with non-LTE deive, Jio will provide a personal router solution named JioFi for Rs 1,999 that offers 4G LTE connection.