India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has doled out a series of announcements, marking a shift in the country's telecom sector. Following the 170-day period since the launch of Reliance Jio mobile network and bagging 100 million customers , Ambani has all the reasons to look forward to expand his footprint in the rapidly-expanding Indian market.
Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, announced – on somewhat predictable lines – freebies for its Jio users at the launch in September, 2016. The powerful business tycoon has now said his customers have so far consumed one billion GB of data during this near six-month-period, entirely for free.
"To all customers, I say thank you," said Ambani at a press conference on Tuesday, 21 February. The billionaire inherited the business empire from his father, Dhirubhai Ambani.
Highlighting the recent push in the mobile penetration across the developing country, he asserted: "Before Jio, India was 150th in the world in broadband penetration. Today, it is the number one country in the world for mobile data usage."
In an attempt to put things in perspective, he said seven customers were added on an average per second since the launch. The customers will be charged for the first time from April 2017; however, all the voice calls made via Jio would remain free. An array of other offers was also on the plate.
Jio's trial services officially hit the market on 5 September, 2016 and caused instant shockwaves across India's lucrative and booming sector of telecommunication – with multiple rival networks drastically cutting their prices.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, India's three leading mobile operators, have seen sales drop after Jio's arrival.
Competitors have also filed a formal complaint with the industry bodies Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Jio's "predatory pricing".
Ambani's digital push and foraying into the cut-throat telecom market, which is often peppered with regulatory loopholes, has come at a time when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who is widely known to be in cordial relations with Ambani – has also been pressing ahead for the digital growth in the country.