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Reliance Jio not only disrupted the telecom sector with its 4G services but also the feature phone and affordable smartphone segment with the JioPhone. The first-generation JioPhone was launched in 2017 and boosted the feature phone sales significantly. Eventually, the company came up with the next-generation model earlier this year with additions such as a touchscreen display and preloaded apps.
In order to meet the challenges set by Reliance Jio, Airtel appears to be exploring options to launch affordable 4G VoLTE smartphones in the market. This will let the telco migrate its 2G subscriber base of over 200 million to is 4G network and also free up the 900MHz band spectrum only for high-speed 4G services. Notably, only Reliance Jio offers fully VoLTE-enabled 4G network to its subscribers for now.
Affordable 4G VoLTE smartphones from Airtel
As per a Financial Express report citing the information from a senior Bharti Airtel executive, they are in talks with a set of device manufacturers to come up with VoLTE phones. Unlike Jio, the telecom operator will not offer any subsidy to these manufacturers. It will partner with them in a way that subscribers of Airtel buying these phones will get cashback incentives that will reduce the cost of these phones.
The difference is that these upcoming devices from Airtel will be smartphones while the JioPhone models are feature phones. This is not the first time that we are coming across smartphones from Airtel, The company had launched a few cheap 4G smartphones in partnership with some OEMs last year.
To be priced under Rs. 2,500
As per the report, these upcoming smartphones from Airtel with VoLTE support are likely to be priced around Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 2,500. The cashback incentives to be offered by the telco might bring this cost down by another Rs. 1,000.
This is an attempt taken by Airtel to increase the ARPU (Average Realisation Per User). As of now, Jio has a higher ARPU as its adding more subscribers to its 4G subscribers. With this move, Airtel can get better revenue as the ARPU per subscriber migrating from 2G to 4G is Rs. 30 to Rs 40 more per month, the report adds. Maybe, the company might discontinue offering 2G services to its subscribers in the coming years.