After the launch of Jio 4G VoLTE phone, a new era of feature phones is going to hit the Indian market. To curb the aggressive move from Jio, Bharati Airtel has also announced the plan to launch low-cost Airtel 4G phones. This would raise a new competition between the telcos in the segment where over 50 percent of mobile users exists. Considering Airtel and Jio are two main players at present, these handset bundling plans will come with a neck-to-neck competition.

These bundled handset plans were not new to the industry. Reliance Communications has introduced way back in 2003 with free calls and SMS. Now, with 4G networks coming into action on all smartphones, 3G network in India may get outdated soon. Hence the need for 4G feature phones knocked the telcos and Jio took the initiation to launch the first. However, these low-cost Airtel 4G phones are not going to be launched anytime this year.

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In a recent announcement, Airtel revealed two major developments in the near future. The company is planning to launch 4G VoLTE network nationwide by March 2018. They will partner with handset makers to offer low-cost airtel 4G phones bundled with various plans.

Surprisingly, the company has confirmed that they have no plans to provide Airtel 4G phone for free. However, it has plans to launch competing offers bundled with Airtel 4G phone.

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“We do not intend to get into subsidizing devices and running the inventory as if we own them. There is a difference between subsidizing and bundling. We have done that on the smartphone side for many years. We will continue to look at bundling,” says, Gopal Vittal, Chief Executive and Managing Director at Airtel.

It would be more interesting to see how Airtel 4G phones will compete with Jio phone which offers the handset for almost free. Until now, Airtel has introduced bundled 4G offers on Micromax’s Canvas 2 with free data for a year. Never the less, it is believed that this low-cost Airtel 4G phone plans will be more or less equal to Jio phone plans.

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