It was barely over a year ago when I joined college and realized that I would have a lot of free time on my hand because lectures are for suckers (PS: They’re NOT). And I needed a way to kill this time that was suddenly available to me, unfortunately, there was a hiccup, I didn’t know how to actually kill the time.

I mean if I was home I would watch a tv series or scroll through social media, judging people and myself in a vicious circle of self-pity and hatred. Anyway, this was college, and I had a prepaid plan with a 1 GB data for a month, that’s like 30 MB a day. Itna toh Mera WhatsApp 1 ghante mei use Kar leta hai.

But that was the reality, there were no unlimited calls, my balance used to fall faster than bitcoin, and data was bloody expensive, especially for a college student like me. I couldn’t spend more than 500 bucks a month on my phone balance, and all that got me was sadness and misery after a week because by then all my data had gone kaput.

I literally told my friends that I would talk to them once I got home because I had wifi and could place a WhatsApp call. Ah, those days.

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But then, on one fine day, two messiahs arrived on a bike and an e-rickshaw distributing free sim cards. They told me I had 1 GB of data, every day, FREE for three months, and would then have to pay a nominal amount to continue. Oh, and free calls and messages too.

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. I thought they were Pakistani hackers, here to hoodwink all of us. But as it turned out, they were Jio reps.

So, I inserted the SIM into slot 1 on my phone and placed a call to my mum, hoping to surprise her. All I heard was “ All lines are currently busy”. This would remain so for quite some time and would frustrate millions, I included. But then it was free, and data worked, so… yippee!

The point of this little me-story has quite serious implications if you think about it. What would have cost a fortune (for a college kid, like moi) is in the reaches of almost everybody now. I mean even my domestic help has a 200 Rs unlimited call pack (presumably so she can call up and tell my mum that “Bhabhi, Aaj Nahi aa sakti”).

You can now have 1GB of data a day with free calls for as little as 400 Rs. And just unlimited calls at a mere 200 Rs.

This massive drop in price, combined with the availability of 4G phones (like Reliance’s LYF) has effectively democratized mobile data. It has brought another digital revolution. A significant chunk of the urban population which did not have access to data earlier, now do.

And this is a place where the concept of trickle down economics works. Because tech is becoming cheaper here, in urban areas, it is a matter of time before it reaches the rural areas.

This increasing democratization of data brings more people online, lets them connect, interact, participate in the global community and feel inclusive.

And I can’t help but thank Jio for this, they took one heck of a gamble. They really came through on their promise to implement the “pay for one service” scheme.

They didn’t know whether people would stick to their network once their freebies expired. They didn’t know whether they would be able to build enough infrastructure or fight off giants like Airtel, Idea, and Vodafone.

But a one-ish year later, they have. Jio is now a telecom giant, Airtel is in a loss, Aircel is shutting down and Vodafone is about to merge with Idea, and I can stream HD movies on the go without burning a hole in my pocket. Sab Khush.

Image Credits: Google Images

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