Thursday, November 17, 2016

Reliance Jio to launch Rs 999 VoLTE feature phone with free voice calls

Reliace Jio launch feature phones with voice over LTE (VoLTE) capability to tap the rural and tier-III markets for its data services and mobile business.Smartphone will be priced below Rs 1000


According to a report by Economic Times, pricing for these devices could be as low as Rs 1,000 and will come bundled with unlimited voice and video calling, alongside digital content. There will be two feature phones, according to reports, priced at Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500, and they could hit the market in the first quarter of 2017.

The VoLTE feature phones will have a keypad, front-facing and rear cameras and will run on a lighter version of Android operating system. These handsets will come with Jio’s content applications such as Jio Chat, Live TV and video on demand. Jio will push its digital wallet service, Jio Money Wallet, through these feature phones.

“Jio wants to tap all the segments in the country and sees huge potential in the rural areas, which it now aims to tap with VoLTE feature phones…The new devices will be aimed at first-time data users. “The 2G feature phone is still a big market in India,” a source was quoted as saying by the publication.

About 65% of India’s more than 1 billion mobile phone subscribers still use feature phones. Affordability – the cheapest 4G smartphones cost about Rs 3,000 – and lack of scope for other uses have deterred the faster adoption of smartphones. Jio, the only telco in India that offers VoLTE to make calls, has added over 25 million users since starting services on September 5 and is targeting 100 million in the shortest time, equivalent to about 38% of market leader Bharti Airtel’s 260 million subscribers in the country. For that, tapping customers who use feature phones is essential, say experts. Currently, VoLTE is offered only on smartphones.

The 4G telco is working with domestic handset maker Lava International and Chinese original equipment makers to manufacture these feature phones. Jio is said to be subsuming part of the selling price to make the 4G feature phones available at about Rs 1,000 (about $15). The cost of making the phones is about $25 and they are usually sold for about Rs 2,500. The initial batch of feature phones could have branding from both Jio and Lava and will be sold through their respective retail channels to reach a wider market, the people said.

The capability to make VoLTE calls in these feature phones will be enabled by chipsets, which Jio plans to source from Chinese company Spreadtrum, while talks are on with Qualcomm and Mediatek, people said. Qualcomm, Spreadtrum and Mediatek declined to comm

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