The arrival of Reliance Jio two years ago undoubtedly changed the landscape of the Indian telecom sector. With its ultra-affordable data-voice combo plans, the Mukesh Ambani-led telco started a tariff war that s getting fiercer every day. In fact, Jio s Average Realization Per User (ARPU) is higher than that of rival telcos, particularly because of the low-end plans it offers bundled with its JioPhone and JioPhone 2 smart featurephones .
To tackle the same, Airtel is now considering launching its own affordable VoLTE-enabled smartphones. The strategy is being implemented to migrate about 200 million Airtel 2G subscribers to the telco s 4G network.
Citing a senior Bharti Airtel executive, a report by Financial Express said that numerous device manufacturers are in talks with the telco for the development and manufacturing of VoLTE-capable smartphones. It s worth mentioning here that unlike the JioPhone and JioPhone 2, which are essentially feature phones (albeit with some smart features), Airtel s offerings will be proper smartphones, most likely based on Android.
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The report further says that for the manufacturing of smartphones, Airtel doesn t plan on offering any subsidies or incentives to OEMs. Instead, the operator will forge partnerships with manufacturers, in a way that subscribers buying these smartphones will get some cashback incentives, thus reducing the overall price of the devices.
The above-mentioned Airtel executive said that Airtel s upcoming VoLTE-enabled smartphones could cost between Rs 2,000-2,500, but after cash backs and subsidies, their price would be reduced to around Rs 1,000. Airtel s VoLTE traffic is expected to make a significant jump after this move. At 50 percent of VoLTE traffic, we will reach the global average, said the executive.