Idea Cellular announced today that it is working with handset makers to launch low-cost 4G enabled handsets. This move from the company comes to challenge the ultra affordable JioPhone feature phone from Reliance Jio.
It is worth mentioning that Idea is all set to be merged with its rival Vodafone in 2018. However, the Aditya Birla Group company made it clear that Vodafone will not assist in manufacturing the handsets.
Idea says this will be an affordable phone that will be priced at Rs. 2500 approx. The dual SIM feature phone will allow customers to choose between 2G and 4G networks. The company will do market research to decide what features can be added in the phone.
Himanshu Kapania, Managing Director Idea Cellular said,
“The practical solution that we are working on is to work with the handset industry and work with them to be able to bring down cost of handsets by bringing down the bill of material, so that the gap of the announced price of Jio feature phone versus a smartphone can be brought down to reasonable levels.”
To recall, Reliance Jio announced JioPhone, a 4G feature phone with unlimited data and free voice calling for a refundable security deposit of Rs 1,500 last week. So, the low-cost 4G ready devices from Idea would come as no surprise.
“Given the fact that this (announcement of JioPhone) has happened, and it is going to be distributed in large volumes, our belief is that we need to work with the handset industry and introduce similar phones in the marketplace,” the MD of Idea said further.
Moreover, Idea Cellular will be possibly launching VoLTE or voice over LTE services by the end of September this year. This will enable its users to make voice calls over its 4G network. Kapania also added that the Idea is also looking forward to monetizing its tower assets.
Since the announcement of JioPhone, all the telecom operators have been trying to be in competition by offering something new. In another similar news, Bharti Airtel, India’s leading Telecom operator has recently invited handset manufacturers to offer bundled data.