Bharti Airtel is reportedly planning to launch its own VoLTE services in India within March 2018. Lately, the largest telecom operator in India has been facing a lot of heat from Reliance Jio, which went on to announce the zero-cost JioPhone last week. However, Gopal Vittal, the chief executive and managing director of Airtel has made it clear that his company won’t launch any subsidized feature phone to compete with Jio.
According to Mr. Vittal, the Indian market shall soon be flooded with low-cost 4G VoLTE feature phones. As soon as that happens, Airtel would partner with some of the selected manufacturers to bundle their services with them.
Stating this, the chief executive and managing director of Airtel said, “We’ve always treated the devices market as an open-ecosystem, whereas the JioPhone is an SIM-locked device.”
For starters, Reliance’s JioPhone is a feature phone that supports 4G LTE as well as VoLTE and apparently costs nothing. You just need to pay Rs. 1500 as a security deposit which will be refunded to you after three years. More on that here.
As per industry analysts, the JioPhone shall tremendously impact the major players of the Indian telecom industry. Currently, Airtel, Vodafone, or Idea collect most of their revenue from their 2G users. And, the bulk of these 2G subscribers owns a feature phone.
Now, with the advent of JioPhone and Reliance’s disruptive tariff plans, the 2G users will naturally shift to Jio. To prevent this, Airtel must bring some cheap plans which would match Reliance Jio.
However, this would be nothing but a loss making proposition. So, this is unlikely to happen. Instead, the cellular service provider would take advantage of the situation to push their customers into buying new 4G LTE features phones. Airtel would collaborate with the manufacturer(s) of their choice and bundle their plans exclusively with their devices.
Needless to say, with lucrative plans, the handsets would sell well. In return, the telecom operator shall get its fair share of the profit from the manufacturer. So, in the coming days, you may see a lot of 4G VoLTE feature phones being launched, bundles exclusively with some cellular service provider.