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A review of Reliance Jio, the upcoming 4G behemoth

Reliance-Jio

Reliance Jio is an upcoming 4G service provider. Though the name Jio isnt a household name, the brand is far from being unknown. It’s a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, headed by the Mukesh Ambani. Though it may sound like yet another 4G provider in a market saturated by existing ventures, Jio is exciting for one reason-VOLTE, or voice over LTE. While existing telecom providers offer voice through the existing 2G spectrum, calls originating in Jio network travel as data packets through 4G network. As such, theoretically the calls ought to be crisper (since more high quality voice data can be transferred when the medium is high bandwidth 4G network) and cheaper. I read that Jio’s vision is to provide LTE data that’s affordable to everyone. Gauging by the prelaunch offers Jio provides, one can definitely expect something awesome.

Having a friend who works in Jio, I had early bird access to a Jio sim. My experience with the fledgeling service was nothing short of enthralling. Awesome download speeds and great clarity were the norm with the occasional disconnection. Initially I could use only data on my Oneplus One, since the phone didn’t support VOLTE. But Jio soon rectified this and paved the way for the masses to experience firsthand, something than can be described as nothing short of exciting. For the first time, one could experience excellent data speeds which Indians had hitherto only dreamed of.

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Jio is now impeding launch, and tens of thousands of Indians are now putting Jio’s bandwidth to the ultimate test. Jio initially offered its preview offer to employee sims, and thereafter open the doors to owners of selected Samsung high value phones. Then, knowingly or unknowingly, they left open a “bug” which allowed owners of other brands 4G handsets to register to the service and experience the “in-thing”. If you ask me, it was not a bug. Most probably at some high level of the management, they may have made a conscious decision to allow other customers access to the service. For the best way to engender curiosity and improve market presence by marketing is passive marketing, by word of mouth. Jio didnt even need to launch ads, already there’s a huge demand for their sim cards.

Word is rife in Whatsapp and Telegram groups that people are even reselling employee sims at a huge price because of the sheer demand for a Jio sim!

Anyway, the speeds of Jio have been excellent. The following is a speedtest that I did today at Kochi. Let the figures speak for themselves:

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Anyway, one thing is clear, Reliance Jio will give the rest of the service providers a nightmare once it releases! For consumers, it’s a dream come true.

It’s not fair to be critical of Jio at this point of time when it has not yet commercially launched. However, the following sum up my experience with Jio:

Call quality: Calls on Jio require either a VOLTE supported handset. If you don’t have one, don’t despair, because the company has launched an Android app, Jiojoin which helps non-VOLTE handset users make calls (including video calls), send sms and more. The app does its work, but it could have been better designed. The fonts are small, and the interface unintuitive. It also seems to hold wakelocks, which are never a good idea, since it drains your battery quickly. Once the app is redesigned and the bugs removed, everyone can join the VOLTE bandwagon. Oh and did I mention that as a preview offer, All India calls are free for 90 days?

Data: This is the awesome part of Jio. Internet connectivity is excellent, barring the occasional disconnection (location specific no doubt). In Trivandrum at least disconnection rate is very high, and it’s difficult to make calls without getting disconnected very soon. By the looks of it, Jio is working hard to fix their network.

Jio may very well deliver on its promises of “shaping the future of India by providing end-to-end digital solutions for businesses, institutions and households and seamlessly bridging the rural-urban divide.”.