Industry body COAI -- which has been at loggerheads with member Reliance Jio over a slew of issues in the past -- today termed Jio's fixed-line fibre broadband system as a "game changer" and said the company garnering over 200 million mobile users in a short span of time is "commendable".
"The announcements made by Mukesh Ambani (RIL Chairman) today have positioned RJio as an extensive technology company rather than just a telecom service provider. This is an interesting development and once the plans laid out today start taking shape, we can expect new streams of revenue to be initiated that will benefit the industry," Rajan S Mathews, Director General of Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI), said in a statement.
Jio, the newest entrant in the telecom market, as also old operators like Bharti Airtel and soon-to-be-merged Vodafone and Idea Cellular are all members of the COAI.
Reliance Jio's entry into the mobile segment in 2016 led to a bruising tariff war that dented the financial metrics of the incumbent operators.
After storming the mobile telephony market with free voice calls and dirt cheap data, Ambani today announced an ultra high-speed fixed line fibre broadband for homes and enterprises across 1,100 cities, and also outlined blueprint for an online-to-offline 'new commerce' platform.
Speaking to PTI, Mathews said while he expected Jio's proposed fixed line broadband and digital offerings to make "some disruption" and drive down prices in the market, the competitive pricing pressure is unlikely to be as intense as seen in the mobile telephony market.
At the 41st annual general meeting of Reliance Industries today, Ambani said customers can start registering for the fixed line broadband from August 15 but did not give a launch date or pricing for the service, which will through home fibre provide high-speed internet, ultra high definition entertainment on large screen TVs, multi-party video conferencing, voice-activated virtual assistance, virtual reality gaming and digital shopping as well as smart home solutions.
Jio has amassed 215 million customers and sold over 25 million Jio phones so far.
"Getting more than 200 million subscribers in such a short time is indeed a commendable achievement, for any company," COAI's Mathews said.
Ambani also announced second-generation Jio Phone with added features which will be available for Rs 2,999.
"We are happy to note that Jio Phone 2 will provide more features/apps, especially Facebook, Whatsapp and Youtube, which will make it more attractive for subscribers. Moreover, the newly launched Jio smartphone is very attractively priced and is expected to see increased uptake; and we expect feature phone users to transition to smart phones," Mathews said.
On the new fixed-line broadband offering being lined up by Jio, Mathews said he expected 'JioGigaFiber' to be a "game changer" and "revolutionise" the Information and Communications Technology sector.
Over the last few years, COAI and Jio have locked horns over a number of issues that ranged from the newcomer's introductory free voice and data offers to provision of points of interconnect and from predatory pricing rules to the voting norms followed by the industry body.
Meanwhile in its latest note, JP Morgan said that while there are no details yet on pricing of the upcoming optic fiber broadband service, it is of the view that given Jio's customer acquisition strategy, the launch pricing should effectively be at a "large discount" to current broadband and set top box pricing prevalent.