Nearly 15 years after he brought ‘Monsoon Hungama’ scheme offering cheap handsets in an otherwise expensive market, billionaire Mukesh Ambani on Thursday announced ‘JioPhone Monsoon Hungama’, offering to replace old feature phone with JioPhone for just Rs 501.
Speaking at the 41st annual general meeting of Reliance Industries, Ambani also outlined a target of garnering 100 million JioPhone users in the “shortest possible time”.
He also announced added capabilities and functionalities for JioPhone, an internet-enabled feature phone that offers 4G connectivity.
Announcing the new ‘Monsoon Hungama’ offer, Ambani said: “Today we are introducing another attractive offer to feature phone users…Starting July 21…they can exchange their existing feature phone for a brand new JioPhone for just Rs 501. “We have thus reduced the effective entry cost of JioPhone from Rs 1,500 to as low as Rs 501.”
In July 2003, Reliance Infocomm had launched Monsoon Hungama Offer — a crowd-puller that allowed customers to get a multimedia mobile phone for Rs 501 upfront payment, and monthly plan options. The Chairman of Reliance Industries today said that 500 million Indians still use feature phones without internet capabilities.
“The doors of digital life are closed to them because of the problem of affordability,” Ambani said pointing out that this had been the driving force behind last year’s launch of JioPhone at a fully-refundable deposit of Rs 1,500, that made it effectively free.
The company already has 25 million JioPhone users.
“With the added functionalities, our wider network reach across India and strong retail presence across India, the goal that I have now set for our Jio team is to enable 100 million users on this JioPhone platform in the shortest possible time,” he said.
Ambani – who stormed into the mobile telephony market with free voice calls and dirt cheap data offerings in 2016 – today said JioPhone 2 would be made available at an introductory price of Rs 2,999 from August 15. He also announced ambitious plans for offering ultra high-speed fixed line broadband services for homes and enterprises across 1,100 cities.
The new ‘Jio GigaFiber Service’, the registration for which will commence on August 15, promises to transform digital experiences for home users, he said. The GigaFiber service will enable experience of ultra high-definition entertainment on large screen TVs, multi-party video conferencing, voice-activated virtual assistants, virtual reality gaming, digital shopping, among others.
“Optical fiber based fixed line broadband is the future…Jio is determined to move India to the top 5 in terms of fixed line broadband in coming years,” Ambani said spinning a vision of connected homes, digitally agile small businesses, and globally competitive large enterprises.
The telecom venture of Reliance Industries whose aggressive tariff positioning in the market is backed by Rs 2,50,000 crore investments in digital infrastructure, has amassed over 215 million mobile subscribers within 22 months of launch.
“Even after serving the needs of our 215 plus million customers, the capacity utilisation of the Jio network is less than 20 per cent, which means, we can multiply our customer base without additional investment,” he said.
Ambani said Jio is on track to achieving the target of 99 per cent population coverage with 4G-LTE, an expansion that would ensure its presence in every district, taluk, gram panchayat and village of India.
When contacted, industry body COAI Director general Rajan Mathews said while he expected Jio’s proposed fixed line broadband and digital offerings to make “some disruption” and drive down prices in the market, the competitive pricing pressure is unlikely to be as intense as seen in the mobile telephony market.