KOLKATA: An overwhelming majority of customers using Reliance Jio Infocomm’s free voice and data services want to continue with the Mukesh Ambani-led 4G telecom operator after it starts charging from April and would like to opt for its Rs 303 a month ‘Prime’ plan, according to a Bank of America-Merrill Lynch survey, increasing the challenge for the incumbent carriers to hold on to their highend customers.
As many as 82% of respondents said they would continue with Jio connections even after the new telco terminates its free voice and data services, while 96% of those who wish to continue said they want to subscribe to “Jio’s Prime offers”, with the Rs 303 Prime plan being the most popular,
The brokerage, however, cautioned that the findings may not be fully representative of the broader market dynamics. The survey of 1,000-odd Jio users was conducted online in the third week of March, focusing on mid-to-high-end smartphone users.
BankAm-Merrill Lynch also said the survey “does not fully capture the impact of counter-offers recently given by Bharti and others” to discourage consumers from moving to Jio.
Jio’s Rs 303 monthly Prime plan, which offers 28 GB data (at 4G speeds) with unlimited voice calls from April 1, has stoked a price war in the telecom turf for retaining upper-tier customers.
BankAm-Merrill’s latest survey comes on the heels of the one conducted last week by Sanford C Bernstein in which Jio scored the “highest overall on customer loyalty” and outscored incumbents on customer service, convenience, data coverage, data speeds and handset choice.
Significantly, 83% of those surveyed by BankAm-Merrill said Jio’s 4G network coverage is at least on a par with other telcos, with 41% considering it to be better, signalling increasing satisfaction levels with the newcomer’s fast broadband coverage.
According to the brokerage, the proportion of users saying Jio is their primary SIM has “increased to 66%” in the latest survey from 50% in its earlier one in December. Alarger percentage of survey participants also said Jio offered faster speeds.
Only 15% said they would continue with their Jio connections if voice issues are fixed while a majority reported a significant improvement in its voice connectivity.
BankAm-Merrill Lynch said the survey findings “increase the risks for incumbents like Bharti to retain its high-end subscribers”.
It expects ARPUs (average revenue per user) to come under pressure for incumbents as it feels “most consumers will stay back for lower ARPUs”.
Earlier this month, Jio’s GB-rich ‘Prime’ offerings galvanised the country’s top three mobile carriers — Bharti AirtelBSE 0.18 %, Vodafone India and Idea CellularBSE 0.00 % — to unleash equally aggressive counter-offers to prevent customer churn.
Bharti AirtelBSE 0.18 % managing director Gopal Vittal had recently said the telecom industry is at its weakest ever with a debt burden in excess of Rs 4.5 lakh crore.