Internet scenario in Kashmir
Internet has become essential for large number of people across the world – and Kashmir is no exception. However, the region has no fully reliable and reasonably priced internet service provider among the state-owned or privately operated networks. I have many a times shifted from one service provider to another, as none of them was much reliable and sometimes failed me at crucial times.
However, the best I could find – in terms of cost and speed – was the broadband service by state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, which in its initial times offered very good speed and good uptime. However, with time it ruined in terms of both speed and uptime. Many times, I could not even access sites as simple as Google, leave aside social networks or video streaming. I had no option but to have a backup of Airtel 3G service, which was not that good, but at least worked as alternative whenever broadband went down.
Free unlimited data, calling, messaging and television by Jio
Now I hope for the new age internet service in Kashmir, a week after I bought Jio 4G – sister concern service of Reliance communication. The service is yet to launch officially, but the company offers connections on promotional basis – apparently I win-win situation for both company and the consumers. The service comes as a bundle offer wherein customer can purchase a smart-phone of Jio owned LYF brand – ranging from 4 to 20 thousand rupees – and get unlimited high speed internet, unlimited local and national calling, unlimited voice calling, unlimited messaging and unlimited mobile television service for three months. Although the company on-record claims that the unlimited benefits would last for only three months, but many dealers in Kashmir sell the service promising extension of three months – making it six months.
I believe it’s very good deal – the best I have ever come across in telecom sector. In my case, I purchased a smart-phone for Rs 5700 and can enjoy unlimited services for three to six months. If it would be extended to six months, the average monthly price I pay is Rs 950, and if it would be for only three months, the average monthly cost would be Rs 1900.
The former one is a great deal, but the later one is also not that bad. Earlier, I spent Rs 850 for broadband, around Rs 500 for calling and around Rs 500 for 3G internet, making it over Rs 1800. In case of Jio, even if I have to pay Rs 1900 per month, the smart-phone’s value would still be around Rs 3000 three months later.
Review of internet on Jio
The internet service is amazing as compared to all other service providers in Kashmir. My friends have experienced download speeds upto 25 mbps, around 20 to 40 times faster than any other average internet service in Kashmir. However, I myself never recorded download speed of more than 15 mbps and less than 2 mbps, which is very decent – it does not take more than five minutes to download around 300 MB file. The service uptime is good enough until now, as I never experienced internet downtime. I recently read a news report which claimed that Jio presently had over 7 lakh customers across India and they used an average of 19 GB data per month. Moreover, according to the report, Kashmir topped the list of data usage, at around 3.5 GB per user per day.
Review of calling on Jio
However, calling is not good enough yet. Most of the times, it takes long to connect with friends on different networks, but once connected, the calls don’t disconnect themselves. I found a very strange problem with the network, that is most of the times I call someone, it returns with voice memo that the person is on another call, when he is not. Same thing happens many times when others call me.
Calling on any number on Jio network takes not more than two seconds to connect. Voice quality in both cases is good – without any noise or breaks. Moreover, short messaging service words fast enough.
Review of television on Jio
Jio presently also offers over 300 television channels – many of them in high definition – on its application free. I tried some of them and they played very well and without any lag. It even has an option to watch missed programmes or rewind live television.
Review of the handset – Flame 1
Now coming to the smart-phone that I bought – Flame 1 – is not smart enough. I believe it’s overpriced in particular. I would never have bought it if it would not come with exciting benefits of Jio network. The handset would be a hit around five years back, but in today’s time there are many devices much better and cheaper than this.
The biggest flaw is that it takes around three hours to fully charge its 2000 mAH battery and it gives power backup of around four to five hours if we use WiFi hotspot continuously – in fact, I only use it as a hotspot and for calling. When using it as WiFi hotspot and simultaneously charging, it takes around five hours to fully charge. The phone supports upto eight connections on hotspot simultaneously. Device camera is very bad.
The phone often heats up when only using it as a WiFi hotspot. Its WiFi range is good enough – better than my broadband modem. The best thing about the handset is that it comes with two-year warrantee. In fact, the retailer told me on the first day itself that if there is any defect in the device, I can get it replaced in a single day.
SIM locked to LYF devices
Jio SIM is locked to LYF handsets for first three months – means one can use the SIM on any other 4G supported handset only after first three months.
How to acquire a connection
Regarding getting a connection, one has to approach any outlet of Jio with an identity proof and five photographs. The connection is mostly activated the next day. However, the company is very strict about document verification process. I have comes across some cases which took longer to activate because of signature mismatch and unclear photocopies.
Future plans unknown
There is no official account of when the service would be officially launched in India, but the company aims at having a few million customers before formal launch. There is also no account of data and calling plans that Jio would offer after free benefits are over. My retailer told me that a GB of data would not cost more than Rs 50, which is almost four times lower than 3G service providers in Kashmir. We can get a clue from a recent offer that customers of Reliance network got. In some circles, the company offered them 10 GB 4G data over Jio’s network for only Rs 97.
Merits (Roundup): –
- Free internet, calling, messaging and television for three to six months
- High speed 4G internet with good uptime
- Great value for money
- Best internet service provider in Kashmir by now
Demerits (Roundup): –
- Calls to other networks take a long time to connect and sometimes don’t connect at all
- No account about future data and calling cost
- Uncompetitive handsets with average specifications
- Takes a long time to charge (Flame 1 handset)
- Heats up a lot (Flame 1 handset)
Author is the founder / editor at JandK Now