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India’s Richest Man Storms Into Phone Market With Free Calls

  • Ambani says network to begin commercial operations Sept. 5
  • Plan prompts $1.8 billion plunge in rivals’ market value
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Billionaire Mukesh Ambani said his Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. unit will offer mobile phone calls for free, pressuring existing carriers to follow suit in what’s already one of the world’s lowest-priced wireless markets.

Jio’s service will debut Sept. 5 and will be free until December, after which the company will begin charging subscribers as little as 149 rupees ($2.22) a month for data, India’s richest tycoon said on Thursday at the annual general meeting of his Reliance Industries Ltd. flagship. Jio will also not charge for roaming calls within India, he said.