Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of 4G startup Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio), has announced that the newcomer has achieved its target of signing up 100 million subscribers to its services since its launch in September last year, PTI News reports. The cellco’s offer of free voice, messaging and data services until December 2016 – which it later extended until the end of March 2017 – has proved extremely popular with customers, with more than 50 million signing up by the end of November and that number reaching 72.4 million at the end of December, according to the parent company Reliance Industries’ Q3 2017 results. Mr Ambani attributed the rate of growth in part to the new Aadhaar identification system, which includes biometric data and enables Jio to instantly verify a subscriber’s identity: ‘Aadhaar enabled us to acquire a million customers a day, which is unheard of in the industry as a whole.’
Jio’s rapid expansion is likely to see it claim fourth place in the crowded mobile market: according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at the end of September 2016 India’s wireless segment was led by the trio of Bharti Airtel (259.9 million subscribers), Vodafone India (200.7 million) and Idea Cellular (178.8 million), followed by Aircel (90.1 million) and Reliance Communications (RCOM, 88.3 million). A three-way merger between RCOM, Aircel and MTS India is currently in the works, however, and talks are ongoing regarding potential tie-ups between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, and Bharti Airtel and Telenor India, putting even more distance between Jio and the third-placed operator. Jio is also expected to see a dip in its subscriber base once it begins charging for services in April.