Reliance Jio has turned up the heat on competition by offering its 5G subscribers unlimited data on all of its 5G tariff plans. This move is aimed at garnering a significant share of premium 5G subscribers.

Experts note that as almost all premium smartphones have received the requisite software upgrade to connect to 5G, Reliance Jio’s unlimited data plan will encourage more premium subscribers to switch to its 5G plan. This will allow Jio to poach subscribers from other operators namely Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea as well.

Critical move

Reliance Jio’s purchase of the 700MHz spectrum at the 5G spectrum auctions was lauded by experts to be the critical move to garner premium subscribers from its competitors, Bharti and Vodafone Idea.

While Jio possesses the largest subscriber base, a majority of its subscribers are the low paying, data guzzling kind. According to experts, since Reliance Jio is the sole operator to have 5G spectrum in the 700MHz band, it can easily provide unlimited data services to its subscribers on this band.

“Airtel does not possess, 700MHz, which is why it is providing a non-standalone 5G network on which it cannot provide unlimited data to its 5G subscribers,” an expert said on condition of anonymity.

The expert noted that, “Airtel’s non-standalone network means that it is offering 5G services on its existing 4G layer, unlike Jio which is setting up a greenfield 5G network. In addition to this Airtel does not have any sub-GHz spectrum (less than 1000MHz), which would allow its 5G network to traverse vast distances.

“Therefore, once the 5G subscribers move away from the base station, Airtel will switch its subscribers back to 4G , where they do not have enough bandwidth to offer unlimited data. In Jio’s case this is not an issue since 700MHz will allow them to continue to provide pure 5G network father away.”

Airtel presently offers 1.5 to 2.5 GB a day on its 5G plans, meanwhile Jio is offering unlimited data across all base plans on its welcome offer.

According to analysts, most premium subscribers presently prefer Airtel to Jio, due to its less crowded network.

However, balance could tilt in Jio’s favour if they are able to execute this tariff plan well. It all boils down to execution.

R Chandrashekhar, former Secretary at the Department of Telecommunications, said, “Quality of service will continue to be very important. Most premium subscribers do not necessarily face data scarcity to be motivated by Jio’s unlimited data plan to switch operators. If Jio executes its network well, word of mouth will encourage subscribers to switch operators.”