ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reliance Jio

Predatory Pricing or Predatory Behaviour?

Reliance Jio is disrupting the working of India's telecommunications industry by taking on incumbents like Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone which together control almost three-fourths of the market for mobile voice and data services. Although some of its services are "free," RJio's pricing may not be considered predatory even if its behaviour certainly is.

An earlier version of this article appeared as a Web Exclusives in the EPW digital edition.

The writers would like to acknowledge Aditi Roy Ghatak and an anonymous reviewer for their comments and suggestions.

On 1 September 2016, Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio), which is part of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), India’s biggest private company headed by the country’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, commercially launched services to transfer voice and data through the internet using fourth-generation (4G) telecommunications technology. RJio has stated that it hopes to have 100 million subscribers in the “shortest amount of time.” Said to be the biggest “start-up” in the world with an investment of ₹1,50,000 crore the new entrant comes with substantial financial clout (Khanna and Pathak 2016).

RJio is expecting data rather than voice to be its primary source of revenue. This represents an important shift in the structure of an Indian telecom operator. Currently RJio’s competitors such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone earn the bulk (around three-fourths) of their revenues through voice services.

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