Jio claims obscure subscriber acquisition world record

New Indian operator Jio reckons the 16 million subscribers it acquired in September is a world record but there’s little sign of the Guinness team getting involved.

Back in the day, if you wanted to claim a world record you needed to call Norris McWhirter or at least Roy Castle at Record Breakers to not only verify your claim but also confirm that this was a record they were tracking, such as the tallest building or fattest bloke. Now, it seems, the whole process has become an unruly free-for-all, with people claiming records for all kinds of arcane, implausible stuff.

“Reliance Jio Infocomm announced today that it has created a world record by crossing 16 million subscribers in its first month of operations (September, 2016),” proclaimed the press release. “Jio has achieved this growth faster than any other telecom operator or start up in the world including the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype.”

“We are delighted and humbled by the overwhelming response across India to the Jio Welcome Offer,” gloated Reliance Industries Chaiman Mukesh Ambani. “Jio is built to empower every Indian with the power of data. We are delighted that people have recognized this and are utilizing our services to the fullest.”

One of the ways Jio has been able to do this, apart from the time-honoured method of offering loads of free stuff, is via paperless SIM activation using the Aadhar national identification number scheme. India has historically been one of the more bureaucratic countries so being able to activate a SIM within minutes without the usual pointless forms must be very attractive to prospective punters.

The announcement comes just after a massive Indian spectrum auction came to a close after just 5 days with more than half of the available spectrum remaining unsold. Around INR658 billion was raised in the auction, with Vodafone plundering its corporate war chest to drop over INR200 billion on 2 x 82.6 MHz FDD and 200 MHz TDD spectrum in the 1800, 2100 and 2500 MHz bands.

Surprisingly the longer-range lower frequencies seem to have been overlooked, implying all the action is urban for now. With Jio off to such a flyer it’s likely that the incumbents are more concerned with protecting their positions in the major population centres than searching for new subscribers in rural areas, let alone breaking records.

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