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  Business   Companies  22 Aug 2017  Airtel to launch Rs 2,500 4G smartphone to counter Jio

Airtel to launch Rs 2,500 4G smartphone to counter Jio

Published : Aug 22, 2017, 10:59 am IST
Updated : Aug 22, 2017, 11:42 am IST

Report claims Airtel is in talks with handset makers Lava and Karbonn for introducing a 'mass market' phone.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Bharti Airtel at the launch of Airtel 4G services. (Photo: File/PTI)
 Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Bharti Airtel at the launch of Airtel 4G services. (Photo: File/PTI)

Mumbai: Bharti Airtel, country's largest telecom operator in terms of subscriber base, is holding talks with a few handset makers as it wants to launch its own 4G smartphone before Diwali in October, according to a report in The Economic Times. The report cites sources at handset makers Lava and Karbonn as saying that manufacturers are talking with Airtel for a "mass market" phone.

The launch is seen in telecom circles as Airtel's counter measure to take on rival Reliance Jio that has announced India's cheapest feature phone for a refundable deposit of Rs 1,500. JioPhone will start coming in the market by September whose beta testing has already started, Reliance Jio earlier said.

Like JioPhone that will come bundled with free voice calls and dirt cheap internet data packs, Airtel phone will also offer similar services, that will also be an Android-based phone, the report adds. "Telco will allow users to download all apps available on the Google Play app store," ET quoted people familiar with the development as saying.

Bharti Airtel that has ruled India's telecom market, it seems, is gradually losing ground as new entrant Reliance Jio with its lifetime free voice call and dirt cheap internet data packs has eaten into Airtel's revenues.

Airtel reported a 72 per cent drop in its quarterly profit reported in May this year, a figure that was not at par with the estimates. Airtel's net profit slumped from Rs 1,319 crore reported in March 2016 to Rs 373 crore reported in May 2017. Its revenue also dipped substantially. Its net profit had dropped by 55 per cent in quarter ended December 2016.

Airtel's decreased revenue has been attributed to Reliance Jio's arrival on India's telecom landscape. Jio had launched its free services in September last year, initially for three months till December 2016. It later extended the free packs till March 2017 and started charging its customers only from April.

On the contrary, Reliance Jio has grown with a rapid pace since its launch last year, as it added more than 100 million customers in just 170 days of its arrival, according to Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. Jio expects it will add another 100 million users in just few months.

Tags: bharti airtel, airtel smartphone, reliance jio, jio feature phone
Location: India, Maharashtra, Mumbai (Bombay)