EXCLUSIVE: Reliance Jio 4G PUBLIC LAUNCH STARTS; Invite and LYF phone needed

RELIANCE JIO 4GReliance Jio, the 4G operator from the RIL stable, has started expanding its trial services to the public, but through an invite-only system.

With this, you can go and get a trial SIM and a LYF phone, but you need to get the special invite — a bit like buying a OnePlus phone. To buy a OnePlus phone, you have to register for the sale and the company then hands out invites to those who have registered or who have already bought their phone or won contests.

The launch has taken place in the following telecom circles: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, MP and Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Maharashtra and Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Here, Reliance Jio seems to be handing out invites for buying a LYF phone (along with free unlimited 4G data and kumarSIM) to its employees who had got the trial SIM earlier.

“All you have to do is give me your mail ID and I shall send you an invite with a unique code. You can take a print of the same go to any Reliance Digital or Digital Express store… Buy 4G Volte LYF handset and avail this offer. Carry your POI and POA documents for swift activation. Enjoy all the latest apps including 300 channels of TV played on JIO network Freem” pointed out someone who seemed to be aware of the new offer.

jioIt is very likely that invites will be handed out directly to the public also soon — for example to those who make big purchases from Reliance Retail’s stores or those who buy LYF handsets. This possibility was first discussed four months ago. For now, though, you need to reach across to a Jio employee for the invite.

Another shortcoming is that this trial SIM will only work on LYF branded devices, and not on other phones.

CONNECTION IN YOUR NAME

There are one key difference between the earlier offer and this one.

In the earlier offer, the SIM was being given in the name of the employee, while in this one, the SIM will be given in your name.

You have to submit your proof of identity and proof of address.

Also, unlike earlier, this connection would enable you to have your own MyJio account, which you can use for making further recharges. Earlier, the free connection was being managed by the employee on whose name it was issued.

FREEBIESprevie

As part of the preview, you get ‘unlimited access’ to VoLTE calling, 4G data, video calling and SMS for 90 days. (Thanks to Rohit for pointing it out in comments section.)

During this period, no international calls are allowed, neither is international roaming.

You also get free access to 8 Jio applications, includingn JioBeats and Jio OnDemand, which shows the latest movies and TV shows.

RELIANCE DIGITAL ALSO SELLING

Some Reliance Digital stores are taking advantage of this offer to sell their phones.

They seem to be sourcing Jio 4G invites from people they know and giving these invites free of cost to those who buy phones from their store.

There are many posts on social media inviting people to specific Reliance Digital stores to buy phones and get bundled SIMs.

It is likely that you will see the same kind of frenzy for these invites as could be seen in case of OnePlus. OnePlus typically gets tens of thousands, even lakhs of registrations for its sale process when it introduces new models.

AFTER MUCH WAITING

The public opening of Jio’s ongoing trial has come after several disappointments and missed dates.

While fans have been waiting for the operator to unveil its LTE network for years, Mukesh Ambani — chairman of the company — last year said that Jio would have started commercial operations latest by April 1 this year.

The telco started signing up distributors in January of this year, leading to heightened expectations that it would actually launch before April 1.

However, the event was postponed, reportedly because Ambani did not want to go to market with a half-baked product.

Like many other late entrants to the telecom field in India, Jio does not have high-penetration sub-GHz spectrum in many circles.

With only 1800 and 2300 MHz spectrum in many areas, the operator reportedly had trouble matching the indoor coverage of big incumbents such as Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular.

This, it has been reported, was seen as a major flaw, and Ambani wanted the company to integrate the recently acquired, high-propagation 850 MHz spectrum from Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications’ into RJio’s 4G network.

However, that cannot be done till RCom shuts down its CDMA network and moves everyone on to its own GSM and RJio’s 4G networks. This process is currently on, and is expected to take at least one month.

Once it is over, Jio will be able to integrate RCom’s 850 MHz spectrum into its own and potentially get a high-performance network up and running sometime in July. A full commercial launch could take place immediately after.

RCOM’S 4G OFFER

Meanwhile, in an effort to get more and more people to migrate out of RCom’s CDMA network to its GSM network, the Reliance Communications is offering a 4G upgrade offer with free data and voice calls.

Anyone who upgrades from CDMA to GSM will get 10 GB of 4G data, unlimited on-network calling and 150 minutes of calls to other networks free of cost.

However, it should be noted that RCom’s GSM coverage is not as well established as its CDMA coverage, though the addition of Jio’s 4G footprint should help extend the footprint. Still, to take advantage of Jio’s 4G coverage along with RCom’s GSM network, one would have to buy a 4G-enabled handset as well.

However, RCom is improving its GSM footprint and has also entered into intra-circle roaming pacts with Aircel Cellular to boost coverage. In addition, the Anil Ambani company has restarted network expansion as of late last year.

LIFELINE FOR LYF

The current opening up of the soft launch to the public can be seen as a reaction to two things. First, the company probably wanted to soften criticism from eager consumers who have been disappointed with repeated delays in the unveiling of the service.

Secondly, it has invested several thousands of crores, or even Rs 10,000 cr, in creating the LYF handset brand and importing the devices into India.

The devices are based on Snapdragon 615 chipsets, which are a year old. Qualcomm recently unveiled its successor, Snapdragon 625, on a much more efficient chip-making process. More delays would have made it tougher to sell the devices without massive discounts.

With this offer, it is a win-win for data-hungry consumers,  as they get free unlimited data for three months, while the company can liquidate its LYF stocks over the next three months.

Also read: How to increase your chances of getting an Reliance Jio invite.

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