Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio), the disruptive newcomer to India’s mobile market, has unveiled a fresh extension of its controversial free service promotions, dubbed ‘Summer Surprise’, as the cellco looks to gradually convert the more than 100 million users of its free services into paying customers. Under the new promotion, customers were granted a 15-day extension to sign up to its ‘Jio Prime’ plan, which costs INR99 (USD1.5) up front, and INR303 every month thereafter until end-March 2018. In addition, however, customers that sign up to Jio Prime will be rewarded with an extra three months without bills, the company’s chairman Mukesh Ambani announced. As such, customers would not be required to begin paying until July. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the cellco has come under fire from incumbent players for its below-cost pricing, with its entrenched rivals also accusing it of breaking rules on promotions by offering free services more than the 30-day period permitted for a single promotion. For its part, Jio – and several of the relevant authorities – have argued that minor changes between each of its promotions were sufficient for the company to have stayed within the regulatory guidelines.
In the same announcement, meanwhile, Mr Ambani confirmed that some 72 million subscribers had signed up to Jio Prime by late March – well above the 50 million figure reported earlier that week by an unnamed company official – and a strong indication that the cellco is winning over its rapidly growing user base.