In an exclusive conversation with anonymous sources, GIZBOT has learnt that Reliance will unveil VoLTE-enabled feature phone line-up by the end of this year or in the first quarter of 2017.
Feature phones still dominate the Indian market with more than 50 percent share and remain the first preference of people in small towns and rural areas. Reliance wants to tap this wider audience base with its VoLTE enabled feature phones.
Why is this important?
This will come as a huge disruption as through VoLTE enable feature phones, people would be able to access all Reliance Jio services, such as data and free voice calls, which as of now is only possible with Android and iOS smartphones.
It is noteworthy, VoLTE is a software only feature, but it's also dependent on hardware to provide it access to run internet and make calls over voice over LTE.
People in the know-how told Gizbot the VoLTE-enabled feature phones will come with Spreadtrum 9820 processor, which will provide the VoLTE feature to Reliance feature phones.
The chipsets from Spreadtrum will enable VoLTE capability on feature phones to access Relinace Jio services. This will give Reliance a chance to tap the user base who are still using 2G network to access internet. Spreadtrum Communications has previously designed chipsets for Samsung Z2 Tizen based smartphone, Samsung J2 handset, Galaxy tab 7.0, and some other smartphones selling in Brazil and other parts of the world.
Reliance has already triggered a pricing war by introducing dirt cheap 4G voice and data plans with Jio. Following intense competition, other incumbent telecom operators cut data rates and introduced new plans to match the competition.
Moreover, smartphone makers are also affected by the move, as they have to make their phones VoLTE enabled to support Reliance Jio services.
Meanwhile, internet rates are further expected to come down resulting in wider internet penetration in the country in 2017.
GIZBOT sent an e-mail questionnaire to Reliance but the company has not responded as yet