Since the launch of Reliance Jio last week, there has been a great amount of excitement around the new network. Reliance Jio is highly in demand because the network is offering free calls to everyone and what's more, until December 31 2016, using the network is going to be completely free - you'll be able to use 4GB of data daily at 4G speeds without having to pay anything at all.
The problem is that it's getting harder and harder to get a hold of a Reliance Jio SIM card now. Gadgets 360 went to several Reliance Digital, Reliance Digital Xpress Mini, and third-party stores that sell Reliance Jio connections, and in all of these, we were told that the SIM cards are unavailable indefinitely. Gadgets 360 reached out to Reliance Jio multiple times to learn about the nature of the delays, but got no official response from the company.
(Also see: How and Where to Get Reliance Jio SIM Card)
However, Gadgets 360 has learnt that Reliance Jio has stopped handing out SIM cards so that it can activate the huge backlog that has been building up. This is in line with the experience of those who are lucky enough to actually get a SIM - most have been waiting for its activation for days, without any luck. According to a source, the following message was being circulated to a few dealers and employees:
Jio Will Not Process Any Activation In Maharashtra Till Next Orders From Mr Sunil Dutt As More Than 50 Thousand Sims Already Sirculated In Market Which Are Yet To Be Actived. So Plz Don't Allot Sim To Customers As It Will Lead To Headache And Will Ruine Our Goodwill. Team JIO Has Already Mailed All The Distributors And Company Employees !!!
The Sunil Dutt mentioned above is the President of Reliance Jio, who was formerly the head of BlackBerry in India. This statement is a far cry from Mukesh Ambani's statement that people will be able to use eKYC to walk out of the store with a working SIM card. Gadgets 360 understands that process is still being rolled out.
In the meantime, lots of hopeful customers are turning up at Reliance's stores, just to be turned away because there are no Jio 4G SIM cards to be found. People are standing in lines, holding coupons that the stores handed out a day in advance, only to be turned away disappointed.
"They said that 50 SIMs would be distributed," says one such customer. "I got into the line holding the coupon they gave me. It is coupon number 8. They said they will give SIMs only to people with coupons. They gave the coupon yesterday, and today I got into the line but they're saying that the SIMs have run out."
Customers have made repeated trips, only to be told to come back in two to three days. They go home, and come back again only to be told the same thing all over again. More than one customer told Gadgets 360 that they had been told by the store staff to come back the next day, on multiple visits, with no explanation about what's going on, and no realistic timeline on when more Jio SIM cards will be available.
The only thing that's clear is that there are no Reliance Jio SIM cards - whether it's because the demand is higher than Jio expected, or because it's trying to scale up the number of users on its network in a controlled manner. Unfortunately, there's simply no official word, which is causing a lot of confusion.
"Why they're not coming we also don't know," says one store manager. "Our seniors also know that there is a crowd everywhere. But we haven't been told why more [SIMs] aren't coming." A lack of communication is one of the areas where Reliance runs the risk of losing the goodwill it's build up now, so it's disappointing, if not entirely surprising, to see the situation on ground right now.
Written with inputs from Aman Rashid, Kanad Mukherjee, and Kunal Dua.