City residents throng Rajbagh to get free SIM cards
With hundreds of bikes and dozens of cars parked outside its office, it seems all roads in the city are leading to Reliance Jio’s Kashmir headquarters in Rajbagh here.
As the newly launched mobile company is offering free SIM cards with without charge local, STD and roaming, despite shutdown and curfews hundreds of people throng Jio’s local office for purchasing its postpaid connections.
In Kashmir prepaid outgoing calls and mobile internet is barred for more than last 80 days now with intermittent ban on both postpaid and prepaid mobile services except for the state owned BSNL after the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen Commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
The rush of people for purchasing the Jio postpaid connections here which is visible from both outside office building as well inside office’s main waiting hall. At Rajbagh crossing, where the Jio office is located, three Traffic Police officials are managing the heavy rush of vehicles and customer say that despite coming early morning they have to wait for hours or even may have to come next day to get a mobile connection.
Though across India the attraction towards Jio is its cheap internet packages but in Kashmir when the mobile internet is presently banned it is the free SIM card and voice calling through its ‘Jio Welcome Offer’ that has become the main reason for customers to go for its services.
Customers say that above all the barring of prepaid outgoing calling in Kashmir has become the main reason for them to opt for the Jio postpaid.
Jammu and Kashmir has about 98 lakh mobile subscribers with more than 90 percent of them with prepaid connection, according to TRAI records. The barring of outgoing on prepaid phones rendered majority of mobile users devoid of calling facilities forcing them to either apply for new postpaid connection or convert their prepaid SIMs into postpaid.
“I was a prepaid user but I cannot call anybody from it, therefore, needed a postpaid SIM and would have gone for any postpaid which would be affordable with good connectivity. But when I saw Jio offer, I found it amazing. The company will not charge me for voice calls months and there is no monthly rent to be paid until December. So why should I bother about standing in a queue for few hours, when I am going to save lot of money,” says Waseem Wani of Habak. Wani had reached Jio office from the city outskirts at 8 0Clock in the morning and was able to get the SIM card at 3PM.
Like Waseem, same tale is repeated by a number of customers, who are queued up for their turn to get the Jio connection.
The rush of new customers was earlier witnessed by BSNL, as its postpaid services were not barred by government and Airtel for its reliable service quality. However, as soon as the Jio announced its offers on September 1 and started issuing SIM cards here, new customers turned en masse towards it.
Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries of which Reliance Jio Infocomm is a subsidiary on its Annual General Meeting on September 1 announced that domestic voice calls to any network across India would be free for Jio subscribers even beyond the Jio Welcome Offer and domestic roaming services would also not be charged separately,. Besides, average data prices would be around Rs 50 per GB, which would be amongst the lowest in the world, he has claimed.
Company officials based in Srinagar, who does not want to be named as they are not authorized to speak to media, though reluctant to share exact figures, say that they are witnessing unexpected response and are much ahead of their target with thousands of SIMs already provided to customers.
“When we started, the present phase of unrest had already begun and internet and prepaid was banned, so we were very skeptical that there will be hardly any people buying our services but as the announcement was made about the free offers, people despite shutdown and curfews started to throng in, these are the best offers available presently in whole telecom sector here,” said the official.
They also said that there is minimum documentation required for obtaining a Jio SIM. One needs to provide their Adhar No and thumb impression to verify the Adhar No and receives a SIM card within no time, which is activated then and there only.