Data costs on Reliance Jio network have gone up again as the operator has withdrawn its only data-only data and has made it mandatory for all consumers to also activate a voice pack to consume data services.
The only data-only plan it had on offer — Jio Cricket Pack — used to give 2 GB of data per day for 51 days for 51 days, with zero voice benefits.
Despite not having voice benefits, the plan was popular with data users as it offered a cheaper option compared to voice+data combo plans.
For example, by offering 102 GB of data for Rs 251, the Cricket Pack was giving data at the rate of Rs 2.50 per GB, while the cheapest voice+data combo (Rs 599) was charging around Rs 3.57 per GB.
With this, Jio’s cheapest 4G plan is 78% more costly than Vodafone Idea’s cheapest 4G data plan.
Jio’s move to withdraw the Rs 251 Cricket Plan also means that the operator now has no plan that targets pure data-only users.
From now on, anyone who wants to remain on Jio’s network has to buy the 4G operator’s voice packs as well.
This has increased the cost of data by about 43% for those were consuming only data, and no voice, under the Cricket Pack, as they now have to shell out Rs 599 for 168 GB of data, instead of Rs 251 for 102 GB.
Even as it has withdrawn the cheap 4G data plan, Reliance Jio has introduced some more flexible data top-ups, which are, however, nowhere as cheap as the outgoing Cricket Plan.
The operator has introduced three new plans with no daily caps, but at a higher price of Rs 5 per GB — or twice as high as the outgoing plan.
Another downside of these new data-only plans is that they cannot be activated alone as they do not contain a voice component.
If you want to activate these plans, you first have to buy a voice plan, such as the Rs 329 plan that gives unlimited voice for 12 weeks (84 days).
Once the voice plans is activated, users can activate these new data top-ups by recharging with Rs 251 (50 GB), 201 (40 GB) and 151 (30 GB).
They can also recharge with 101 for 12 GB, Rs 51 for 6 GB and Rs 21 for 2 GB. These plans, however, are not new.
Since these 4G data top-up plans do not come with any specific validity, the user has to ensure that they consume the total benefit of the pack before the validity of their existing voice plan runs out.
For example, if the remaining validity of the user’s voice plan is only 20 days, then the full quota of the data top-up has to be consumed in the remaining 20 days, and cannot be carried over once the voice plan ends.
With this, Jio has come closer to the traditional, voice-centric business model of other telecom operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
While the move will hurt data-oriented subscribers of the Jio network, it is expected to generate more money for the operator.
Jio is on a mission to improve the cash it generates from each of its subscribers, and has managed to increase the average amount paid by its subscribers by 7% — from around Rs 122 for Apr-Jun 2019 to Rs 131 for Jan-Mar 2020 — by increasing data prices by around 25%-30% and charging for off-network voice calls.
Meanwhile competitor Vodafone Idea offers 4G data at far cheaper rates.
Vodafone Idea, for example, offers a whopping 224 GB of 4G data for Rs 449, which works out to Rs 2 per GB — which makes it 44% cheaper than the cheapest Jio plan.
Vodafone Idea also offers 336 GB of data for Rs 699, which works out to Rs 2.08 per GB, and 112 GB for Rs 299 (Rs 2.67/GB).