In 2003, Mukesh Ambani shook the nation by launching his revolutionary mobile phone service under Reliance Infocomm. The offers, which included a free digital mobile phone at just Rs 501 and call rates at 10-40 paise when the going rate was Rs 12-14, shocked competitors, permanently changing the rules of the game in telecom tariffs.
Fourteen years later, the very same corporate wizard is set to do it all over again with his Jio Phone, which will be available to customers “effectively free” against a security deposit of Rs 1,500 that will be refunded after three years.
For all practical purposes, Ambani has gone further this time round. The Jio Phone comes with a monthly subscription of just Rs 153 for which users will get unlimited free voice calls and 500 mb of 4G data a day for a 28 day cycle.
The Jio Phone is a feature phone—a no-frills basic mobile phone, and is aimed at users in tier-2 and tier-3 towns and villages where smartphone penetration is low and people still use mostly basic phones. That there is a huge market for...