Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel is firming up plans to take on its latest rival Reliance Jio and retain its depleting market share in India’s telecom industry. According to an Economic Times report, Airtel is in advanced talks with handset makers to introduce a 4G smartphone for about Rs 2,500.
This 4G smartphone, which will be launched in the run up to Diwali will be bundled with large amounts of data and voice minutes.
Airtel and the handset maker will co-promote the 4G device, which will be based on the Android operating system. However, Airtel will not subsidize the handset.
The launch is likely around the end of September or in early October.
A source told ET that Airtel is talking to some handset manufacturers to bring in a smartphone, which will have a bigger screen, better camera and better battery performance than what a feature phone could offer.
“Discussions are at a very advanced stage,” the person added.
Sources at handset makers Lava and Karbonn confirmed to ET that they are in separate talks with the telecom market leader for a mass-market 4G smartphone.
Ever since Reliance Jio launched ver a year ago, telecom companies in India have been struggling to retail their customer base and have been fighting competition with various offers, be in free data or offers bundled with smartphones.
ET reports that both Jio and Airtel are shifting their focus to the roughly 500 million feature phone users who still use voice services and haven’t upgraded to smartphones for reasons of affordability or the lack of express need.
Reliance recently announced the launch of a 4G VoLTE feature phone locked in with a Jio SIM, and effectively free of tariffs for just a Rs 1,500 deposit, which will be returned to the user after three years.
Along with the handset, it is also offering a monthly subscription fee of Rs 153 for unlimited voice and data.
The JioPhone hits the market in September.
Image: Easa Shamih via Flickr