Those who have already paid the one-time fee as well as Rs 303 or more for the plan, will also be eligible for complimentary service.
The complimentary service means the company would effectively start charging only from July 1, implying more pain for incumbents such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and others. “This will mean an additional quarter of pain for the incumbent operators. The markets had factored in a paid system for RJio from April 1, but the latest move will force operators to respond with similar plans,” said an analyst at a foreign brokerage. Consequently, their stock prices could see some pressure when markets open on Monday for trading.
The numbers put out by the company is more than the Street estimates and has surprised analysts who had initially pegged the subscribers at 22-23 million.
“In just one month, over 72 million (and still counting!) Jio customers have signed up for Jio Prime. We, at Jio, are honoured and grateful for this tremendous response,” Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, stated.
The company indicated the extension had been made to provide breathing space for users to avoid service disruption during the transition from free to paid services. The company also said the complimentary service is the first of many surprises for Jio Prime members. This would spell more trouble for the current market leaders trying to keep their premium subscribers within their fold.
The company said that customers who do not recharge by April 15 will experience degradation and/or discontinuation of services.