New Delhi: Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd will offer internet access, videos and voice calls for less than Rs1,000 a month when it wired broadband services later this year, a repeat of the aggressive pricing strategy that ruffled incumbents during the launch of its wireless phone services.
Reliance Jio, which has triggered a consolidation in the telecom sector since its entry in September 2016, is testing its fibre-to-home services in some cities, including New Delhi and Mumbai.
“Reliance Jio plans to enter the wired internet segment by the end of this year...and the fibre-to-the-home (services) will also come with unlimited calling through a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone as well as JioTV," a person aware of the matter said, requesting anonymity.
“Discussions on a bundled tariff are still going on, but current talks suggest it could be under Rs1,000 a month," the person added.
An emailed query sent to Reliance Jio was unanswered till press time.
As part of the wired broadband trials, Reliance Jio is currently offering free broadband with unlimited internet at 100 mbps against a security deposit of Rs4,500.
“Bundled offerings, though popular in some Western countries, have not been successful without a strong content play. Reliance Jio has been active with its content strategy and this would become an advantage with a bundled quad play—fixed line, mobile, broadband internet and media. It may increase consumer stickiness," said Amresh Nandan, research vice-president, Gartner.
On 1 May, the government approved a proposal to permit internet telephony. VoIP is a technology that allows users to make voice calls using a broadband internet connection instead of a traditional public switched telephone network.
JioTV, Reliance Jio’s television app, has also stepped up its content offerings recently. In the past, it has won digital rights for global sporting events such as Winter Olympics 2018, EFL Cup (Carabao Cup Final), and T20 cricket series Nidahas Trophy. Through the JioTV app, a user can access many TV channels and even pause and play a live programme or catch up on shows telecast over the previous seven days.
Ahead of Reliance Jio broadband launch, rival Bharti Airtel Ltd is trying to push its home broadband offerings in new cities and expand its coverage in cities where it is already present. Airtel has also boosted its content by introducing a new home broadband plan with speeds of up to 300 mbps at a monthly rental of Rs2,990, with 1,200GB of data and free subscription to Airtel’s over-the-top apps Wynk Music and Airtel TV.
Airtel currently has three plans with monthly rentals of Rs1,099, Rs1299 and Rs2,199, where it has bundled Amazon Prime subscription with landline calling and broadband.
“Bundled offering makes a lot of sense since the ability of telcos to monetize their infrastructure has fallen considerably, with competition forcing tariffs down drastically. Moreover, net neutrality rules disallow differential pricing of internet content. Therefore, offering additional services like DTH TV allows the telco to marry content with carriage and get pricing flexibility without breaching net neutrality. This is perhaps the best way for telcos to retain customers in the current volatile environment," said Mahesh Uppal, director at communications consulting firm ComFirst India.
Reliance Industries has increased the focus on content by recently announcing an integration with music app Saavn for its digital music service JioMusic, apart from separately buying a 5% stake in film firm Eros International Plc.