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.