Customers at a Reliance store at the launch of Jio mobile phone service. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Reliance Jio Draws Big Crowds But SIM Card Scarcity, Delayed Activation Disappoint Customers

Reliance Jio launched its full service on September 5, and barely a day later, it’s clear that demand for SIM cards is outstripping supply. SIM cards are meant to be available free of charge but due to the surge in demand some dealers are making a quick buck by charging for them.

SIMs are being sold for Rs 100, a local telecom dealer in Mumbai tells BloombergQuint on the condition of anonymity. Even then, many customers have had to return empty-handed.

Another dealer, Vinod, says he got 10-30 SIMs from the company, but could have sold more than 50 if there was adequate supply. Customers and dealers alike say there are delays in SIM activation. Though customers are submitting the required documents in advance, Reliance Jio executives haven’t turned up on time to collect these, Vinod adds.

Outside a Reliance Digital store in Mumbai one customer tells BloombergQuint that walk-in customers are being issued tokens since the store ran out of SIM cards.

The scarcity of Jio SIM cards isn’t the only trouble local dealers are facing. The dealers who purchased biometric machines from Reliance for immediate activation of SIM cards say these machines remain inactive.

On September 1, Mukesh Ambani announced the launch of Reliance Jio services for September 5.

The company says it will provide unlimited, free services up to December 31, after which users have been promised voice calls — both local and subscriber trunk dialling or STD — as well as roaming, free of cost, for life.