Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Communications has started giving 4G upgrade SIMs in many circles over the weekend, but in some circles, the availability of SIM has been delayed by at least a week.
According to initial indications, all circles were supposed to get 4G upgrade SIMs by 25 April, and the actual activations were supposed to start by 4 May.
However, according to the latest indications, in many circles like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the 4G SIMs are yet to reach retailers.
However, in places like Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai, Maharashtra-Goa, Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh), Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Kolkata, 4G SIMs have started reaching the outlets.
Many Reliance Mobile Stores have started giving these cards to subscribers who wish to move from CDMA to GSM/4G.
Though technically free, some stores are charging amounts ranging from 80-150.
Users are also required to recharge their new 4G SIMs after upgrade with Rs 93, which gives 10 GB of 4G data and 150 minutes of talk time. For more details of the initial offer and how to do the first recharge, please see the updated story.
According to our sources, states other than those mentioned above will start getting 4G SIMs by around 10th or 15th of May.
AHEAD OF JIO
With this, the ball has been set rolling in opening up the joint 4G network of RCom and Reliance Jio to public beta testing.
Though RCom is not calling it a trial, but an upgrade, these early users will help the companies iron out any big network-related bottlenecks.
In addition to the 4G network, the upgraded users will be able to use RCom’s 2G network — present nearly all over the country — as well as its 3G network, present in about half the states.
However, the free data being given with the initial recharge of Rs 93 cannot be used on the 3G network, but only on the 4G network.
TARIFF PLANS NOT REVEALED
Perhaps to encourage users to upgrade to 4G instead of moving to a rival operator through MNP, Reliance Communications has not made public its tariff plans for these users.
According to our sources, however, the 4G upgrade customers will have to pick one of the GSM plans. However, RCom could add more attractive GSM plans with more data quotas in the coming days to cater to the new users.
It should be kept in mind that as of now, there not clarity on whether or not these upgraded customers will be able to make voice calls on 4G, also called VoLTE. However, our analysis of RCom’s recent changes to its GSM plans suggests that it would put 4G users on these plans.
If these new customers are able to make 4G voice calls, they will be able to get decent voice coverage. On the other hand, if they can make voice calls only using 2G and 3G networks initially, voice coverage may be slightly poorer than what they used to get under CDMA. In either case, RCom 4G users will be able to make 4G voice calls after couple of months.