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Reliance Jio hits 100M subscribers ahead of expectations

Indian newcomer Reliance Jio has attracted 100 million subscribers in just five months, according to the operator’s chairman Mukesh Ambani.

Speaking at the India Leadership Forum, Ambani said: “When we started Jio we set a target of 100 million customers in [the] shortest [possible] time. Even we didn’t imagine we [would] do it in months.”

Having launched its services in September last year, Jio aggressively sought to install a customer base by offering free voice, messaging and data services. The free access was initially scheduled to end in December but Jio has pushed back the deadline to the end of June.

The offer has prompted rivals to reduce their prices dramatically to deter their customers from switching to Jio, with market leader Bharti Airtel going as far as to file a complaint with the regulator TRAI. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao called out the short-sightedness of the free tariffs, stating that Vodafone India would be in an “excellent position to recover the market when the newcomer starts billing.”

Jio’s disruption of the market may also have backfired by prompting several heavyweight operators – including numbers two and three Vodafone and Idea Cellular - to discuss the possibility of merging as a means of shoring up their market standings.