New Delhi: Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (R-Jio), which plans to commercially launch its 4G technology-based high-speed data services in the second quarter of the next fiscal, is looking at innovative ways to generate demand before the launch.
The telco has deployed its high-speed services in six major stadiums across the country, ahead of the World T20 cricket tournament that starts on Tuesday. These are: Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), Mohali (Punjab), M. Chinnaswamy Stadium (Chennai), Eden Gardens (Kolkata), Feroz Shah Kotla (Delhi) and Wankhede (Mumbai). Cumulatively, the stadiums have a capacity of more than 226,000 spectators.
Interestingly, the firm has gone beyond just providing complimentary data connectivity. R-Jio has installed more than 650 access points, or wifi antenna, in the grounds, which, depending on the size of the stadia, will ensure that even at full capacity, users will get 5-10 megabits per second (Mbps) speeds. Eden Gardens has as many as 1,101 access points, while Dharamsala has 558 and FerozShah Kotla 668, a note from the firm said.
The facility will enable spectators to stream the games on their handsets for instant replays and commentary, or upload videos and pictures in an instant.
The move comes after a pilot the firm conducted at Wankhede last year during an India-Australia match. According to a senior executive with R-Jio, as many as 30,000 spectators at the stadium subscribed to the service, and at any point 20,000 people were using it. The usage translated to as much as 2.2 terabytes (TB) of data downloaded during the four hours of the match. “That’s as much as 22,000 movies," the executive said requesting anonymity.
Till such time as R-Jio commercially launches its services, they will be complimentary, and without any upper usage limit. “Smartphones have only that much battery, and it is difficult to recharge them at the stadium. So, putting a limit does not make sense. We want users to experience the quality of the service. The feedback from the Wankhede pilot was tremendous. This allows people to experience the service and when we launch, the demand will already be high," the senior executive said. The firm is in talks with colleges and universities as well as municipal corporations to roll out the service in other public areas, the executive added.
The key reason for this kind of a roll-out seems to be the need to counter the perception that parent Reliance Industries Ltd is not very good at consumer businesses. “Whatever they have got into has not done very well, be it the retail business or fuel pumps some years ago. There are a number of reasons for this. They don’t really get into the customer behaviour aspect of the business—the usage patterns and quality of experience. They have generally looked to create a demand story rather than a balance between demand and supply. This can be seen with Infocomm that was launched in 2001. They went with the lowest price offering, but not many people stuck to it, as you can see," a senior director at a large management consulting firm said, requesting anonymity. He agreed the public area complimentary access was, to some extent, intended at changing this perception.
“They got a very a good response from the Wankhede trial. Most people attending these matches are bound to be high-capacity users, especially at those speeds. They are creating experience and users will have to use their numbers to register which gives Jio a database for when they start commercial services. It looks like they are keeping in mind the voice of the customer and the treatment of the customer at the touchpoints—customer care or retail outlets, etc.," he added.