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Update: Reliance Jio gives postpaid connections with data preview offer to enterprises..
NEW DELHI|KOLKATA: Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani mTelecom Secretary JS Deepak and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman RS Sharma on Friday to update them on the telecom unit's operations amid a raging war with India's largest telcos.

"The meeting lasted over one and-a-half hours with the secretary," a person familiar with the matter told ET. Akash Ambani, the son of the RIL chairman who is deeply involved with the telecom unit, also attended the meeting.

Another person said the meeting with the Trai chairman involved a presentation, providing an update on Reliance Jio Infocomm's operations. The company did not respond to email queries seeking comment.

The meetings took place as incumbent operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular questioned Reliance Jio's status. Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal had also met the telecom secretary recently.

India's top carriers, through the Cellular Operators Association of India, have alleged that Jio is running full-fledged commercial services in the guise of trials and is trying to poach their subscribers.

Jio countered by saying it was following all the rules and alleged that there was an attempt to "sabotage" its entry by denying it adequate interconnection points.

This has led to a majority of calls from the Jio network dropping and delayed the commercial launch, Jio said. Its rivals said they have provided enough interconnect points and won't offer more until Jio starts commercial services.

Jio may shortly file a tariff plan with Trai, which would signal a big step towards a commercial launch, people familiar with the matter said.

Another point of conflict has emerged with Jio said to be expanding its target subscriber base by extending a three-month free voice and data offer to enterprises across India under the trial run. Besides, Jio has tied up to bundle its SIM cards with about 20 more smartphone brands.

Both moves prompted incumbent telcos, which have accused Jio of violating predatory pricing rules, to seek the intervention of the Department of Telecommunications and the regulator.

Jio has started reaching out to big and small companies to offer free SIMs with 90-day validity to holders of 4G phones of any brand, according to people familiar with the development. A Jio employee said the offer, aimed at expanding the target user base, will be rolled out for the larger general population over a period of time.

Currently, Jio's free package is available to those who buy Reliance Retail's LYF devices and users of certain 4G Samsung smartphones.

On Friday, Bharti Airtel tied up with Samsung Electronics to offer 10 GB of 4G data at the price of 1GB for customers of its J-series phones. Jio has also expanded its partnerships with other device makers such as LG, Gionee, Oppo and Vivo to offer data-bundled packages.

"There are in total 20 companies (device makers) that Jio has tied up with," another person said.


Rajan Mathews, director general of COAI, urged Trai and DoT to look into Jio's latest moves. "They should be aware of such developments. We've already brought the matter to the attention of both DoT and Trai that this is tantamount to a commercial launch," he added.

Incumbent carriers have accused Jio of choking their networks with traffic generated from its growing subscriber base. Jio said it has 1.5 million users, while COAI estimates the figure at 2 million to 3 million. Jio's much-anticipated commercial launch is expected to disrupt the telecom market and begin a price war.

Telcos have already slashed effective data tariffs by 67% for prepaid customers and market leader Bharti Airtel has started offering free and unlimited voice with some of its data packs.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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