Reliance Jio has agreed to withdraw its Jio Summer Surprise offer – just six days after it was announced – after sector regulator TRAI issued an order for its canceliation. With Jio Summer Surprise offer, the country’s youngest telecom operator was providing free 4G data, SMSs, app subscription free for three months. But with the offer now withdrawn, Reliance Jio customers – at least a majority of them – will have to start paying.Reliance Jio had been offering free services for six months – with Jio Welcome Offer for the first three months, and with Jio Happy New Year Offer for the next three. It’s free services were supposed to end on April 1, at least according to the announcement made in late February. But the operator announced the new Jio Summer Surprise offer on March 31, bringing another three months of free services for customers – all they had to do was to become Jio Prime members (with a Rs. 99 recharge), and then buy a recharge of Rs. 303 or higher amount, Depending on the recharge value, Jio customers were to receive free 4G data and other services as part of the summer offer.
But TRAI having passed its order, the Jio Summer Surprise offer now stands cancelled. The company said it would obey and pull the freebie-offer as soon as operationally feasible, “over the next few days.”
A Reliance Jio statement clarifies, “All customers who have subscribed to JIO SUMMER SURPRISE offer prior to its discontinuation will remain eligible for the offer.”
This essentially means that Jio customers who have already signed up for Jio Prime membership plan and purchased recharge of Rs. 99 or higher value will continue to get free services till July. After that, they will get the benefits of the recharge value – exactly as was announced on March 31. So, presumably, a majority of Jio’s user base will continue to enjoy free services until June 30.
The only ones impacted will be the Jio users who had not signed up for Jio Prime and purchased the requisite recharges till now. They will have to pay for all Jio services except calls. Though the services were to become paid starting April 1, the company had provided users a grace period till April 15 to enrol for Jio Prime. In this grace period, users could continue to use all Jio services for free, but with the new TRAI order, it is not clear whether this grace period ends too.While Jio Summer Surprise offer has been withdrawn, users can still sign up for Jio Prime subscriptions till April 15 in order to enjoy 4G data and other services at heavily discounted rates, if not free. Customers signing up by paying Rs. 99 as a one time fee by the end of March would get unlimited data and free voice services for a year at a rate of Rs. 303 per month, though usage of 4G data would be capped at 1GB per day.
Reliance Jio, the only Indian network to use only fourth-generation airwaves or 4G, has been accused by competitors of violating laws that restrict free or promotional offers. By February, it had collected 100 million users, while the number of Jio Prime subscribers stood at 72 million on March 31.
The shift to paid services, even at a sharp discount compared to established players, will test the appeal of Jio and the fundamentals behind a $20 billion investment in telecoms by billionaire Mukesh Ambani. Jio, launched after years of delays, has roiled India’s telecoms market. Its free voice and cut-price data plans – that run through to the end of March 2017 – have forced rivals such as Bharti Airtel to respond with price cuts of their own.