Covid-19: Jio offers free calling minutes, additional recharge for JioPhone usersMumbai: Reliance Jio (Jio), India’s largest telco, will offer additional talk time and recharge benefits to its JioPhone subscribers, many of whom have not been able to recharge due to Covid restrictions. The initiative comes at a time when the telco has been losing active users compared with gains made by its main rival Bharti Airtel, say analysts.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned telco is aiming to touch a 500 million user base and thus needs to not only retain its JioPhone customers but also woo India’s 300-million other feature phone users, say analysts.

“Jio working with Reliance Foundation will provide 300 free minutes of outgoing calls per month (10 minutes per day) for the entire period of the pandemic, to JioPhone users who have not been able to recharge due to the ongoing pandemic,” Jio said in a statement Friday.

For the 100 million Jio feature phone subscribers who manage to recharge, the telco will offer a recharge plan of the same value for free.

“…for every JioPhone plan recharged by a JioPhone user, they will get an additional recharge plan of the same value for free. For example, a JioPhone user recharging with Rs 75 plan, will get an additional Rs 75 plan absolutely free,” said the telco. This offer is not applicable on annual or JioPhone device bundled plans.

These offers are crucial since Jio and its rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are also targeting the same set of feature phone customers to add to their customer numbers.

ICICI Securities in a recent report based on the telecom regulator’s February subscriber data noted the aggressive push needed by the top telco to gain more customers.

“Industry-active subs rose 3.2 million with Bharti Airtel net add strong at 3.7million subscribers; Reliance Jio lost 0.2 million subscriber which explains its renewed aggression to push JioPhone,” said the brokerage firm in its report. According to the regulator’s data, Jio’s active subscriber dipped 0.2 million to 324 million in February.

The latest initiative comes on the back of Jio launching two offers for Jio phone users at Rs 1999 and Rs 1499 in February. The first one came with 24 months of unlimited services. The second one offered the VoLTE device with 12 months of unlimited services.

Not to let any customer slip away, Jio is expected to launch this year an affordable 4G and 5G Android-based affordable smartphone in partnership with Google.

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