Idea Cellular, owned by the Aditya Birla group, today announced that it is working to launch an affordable 4G LTE feature phone, starting at a price of Rs. 2500. The company announced this during an interaction with market analysts.
Reliance Jio recently launched the much-anticipated 4G LTE feature phone at a price of Rs. 1500. Named JioPhone, it offers 4G LTE connectivity with VoLTE support and access to TV, music, movies and other Jio apps.
During the analysts call, 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.”
Mr. Kapania also revealed that while a price has not been fixed just yet, the cost of the phone is expected to be around Rs. 2500. He further added that the JioPhone will be distributed in large volumes, so Idea needs to work with the handset industry to counter Reliance Jio’s offering.
It is worth noting that the JioPhone does not support dual SIM and will most likely work only with Reliance Jio connections. Idea’s offering is expected to support dual SIM and be compatible with 2G and 4G networks as well.
Mr. Kapania further added,“While we have no intention to subsidise handsets, both handset manufacturers and telecom operators need each other to make sure that the offering to the consumer is strong enough when you have to make a choice between a bundle offer and telecom operator with a locked handset,”
Reliance Jio’s offerings over the last year have taken the Indian telecom industry by storm. The company has continued to offer affordable data plans with 3 months validity, forcing incumbent operators to offer similar plans as well. This has caused a reduction in the margins of operators, leading to a fall in profits compared to the same period last year.