As the highly-anticipated fixed-wireless access (FWA) service, JioAirFiber, goes live, Reliance Jio of India already has its competitors on their toes. Catering to customers eager for high-speed broadband but situated far from the fixed network, JioAirFiber provides unlimited data at accessible prices, beginning at INR599 (£3.91) per month for an entry-level 30 Mbps service. This allows Jio to move cautiously without depleting its fixed subscriber base.
Now, compare this with the offering from Bharti Airtel, whose FWA service starts at INR4,435 for six months, equating to INR739 per month for 100 Mbps in selected areas of Delhi and Mumbai. In contrast, Jio AirFiber is available in eight cities. But the benefits of AirFiber do not end with its reach. The company aims to encourage users to consume media content by providing all customers with a free set-top box (STB) which can access more than 550 TV channels.
According to the company’s chairman, Akash Ambani, Jio’s FWA service is specifically designed to stimulate digital entertainment and broadband access to millions of homes across India. Ambani’s ambition is for JioAirFiber to reach 100 million customers, which is not entirely unthinkable given Jio’s growth in India’s mobile market.
With the backing of Mukesh Ambani, ranked among the world’s wealthiest individuals, Jio is focusing on market disruption over immediate profitability. The company’s solid start can also be attested to its launch of a 4G network in 2016, which offered free voice calls and affordable data rates, sparking a price war in the market. This strategy allowed Jio to topple competition such as Bharti Airtel to become the leading operator in India.
The launch of JioAirFiber could very well result in a replay of the market tumult experienced during Jio’s market penetration in 2016. The question is, are the competitors ready for this new challenge that Jio is presenting? With its previous successes, competitors can only watch, learn, and prepare for the potential upheaval. The answers will soon be revealed if the popularity of AirFiber matches that of Jio’s previous services.