International financial services group Credit Suisse said Reliance Jio, the telecom arm of Reliance Industries, are preparing for a soft launch of its 4G services, three months after it was opened up to employees and their friends.
“Our visits to Reliance Digital stores in Mumbai revealed that the stores are preparing for a possible soft launch of Jio’s 4G connections soon,” the group said in a note to clients.
Credit Suisse has held a more aggressive view of the impact of Reliance Jio on Indian telecom and rivals like Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular.
While most other investment and broking houses have largely tended to see recent correction in telecom stocks as buying opportunities, CS reiterated it continues to be ‘cautious’ on telecom stocks. The brokerage house has been able to keep a close track on Jio’s progress through the last few years as the RIL-subsidiary poured tens of thousands of crores to get its next-generation telecom venture off the ground.
“Our cautious view on Telco stocks stays, with upcoming spectrum auctions and RJio launch,” it said.
According to the quick note, the analysts found that Reliance Digital staff have undergone training sessions in recent days in enrolling customers, managing documentation, explaining product features etc.
“Remember these are sales folks who normally sell smartphones, refrigerators, and TVs and are not used to selling SIM cards and data plans.”
It also found that Reliance Jio was deploying more advanced technology compared to other operators, which should enable it to activate connection much more quickly.
The stores have been equipped with infrastructure that allows for quick enrolment: basically the devices scan the presented ID documents unlike physical transportation of documents as in other operators, the analysts found.
There has been much speculation on whether or not Reliance Jio will sell its SIM cards only with LYF handsets initially, or whether it will be open to anyone who wants to give the new network a try.
The analysts took the view that it is more likely that there would be open sale of SIM cards.
“The staff mentioned they have received stocks of Jio SIM cards, but they have not been informed when the sales is to start. For the soft launch, customers should be able to pick up a Jio SIM card for Rs.200, which should come with free data and voice valid for three months (as a benchmark the free usage offered to employees in the December launch was 75GB data and 4500 mins calls). The tariffs post the three-month period are unknown. It needs to be seen if a customer needs to buy a Lyf handset to get the SIM, or if the SIMs will be sold standalone (the store attendants suggested standalone).”
Separately, some Reliance Digital outlets have started taking bookings for selling SIM cards.
Last week, we reported that the operator is planning to launch its services across India in April, though some states will see a launch only towards the middle or later part of April, while other areas like Mumbai and Delhi will see launches in the early part of April.
You can keep track of the launch on our live tracking page.