After VoLTE, Airtel Could Launch JioPhone Rival Soon

Called 'Airtel VoLTE', the new service rolled out in the financial capital makes Bharti Airtel the second operator to start 4G VoLTE service in the country, after Reliance Jio.

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After VoLTE, Airtel Could Launch JioPhone Rival Soon

Airtel plans to roll out VoLTE across the country over the next few months

Highlights

  1. Airtel launched VoLTE services in Mumbai on Monday
  2. Airtel plans to roll out VoLTE across country over next few months
  3. Jio is set to deliver low-cost 4G feature phone JioPhone to customers
With the launch of its VoLTE or Voice over Long-Term Evolution services in Mumbai, Bharti Airtel has entered a segment where Reliance Jio alone had presence until now. Called 'Airtel VoLTE', the new service rolled out in the financial capital makes Bharti Airtel the second operator to start 4G VoLTE service in the country, after Reliance Jio. This comes at a time when Jio is set to deliver a low-cost 4G feature phone called JioPhone to customers. There is buzz that other operators could follow Jio and launch their own low-cost handsets in association with handset makers. Bharti Airtel is in talks with multiple handset makers to bring a 4G phone for a price as low as Rs. 2,500-2,700 to take on Reliance Jio, news agency Press Trust of India reported on September 10. Citing a source familiar with the development, the agency said the new 4G phone - which will debut around Diwali - will come bundled with Airtel's 4G connection and "attractive" data and voice plan to woo mass market customers.

AK Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital Markets, also expects Bharti Airtel to launch a 4G handset in near future in partnership with handset makers.

Bharti Airtel has said its Airtel VoLTE service will offer customers "HD quality voice calls along with faster call set up time". Airtel VoLTE will be available on 4G- or LTE-enabled mobile devices with Airtel 4G SIMs, the telecom company added. Available at no additional data charges, the VoLTE service will enable Airtel customers to make calls to any mobile or landline network, it noted, adding that calls will be billed as per existing plan or pack.

Airtel plans to roll out VoLTE across the country over the next few months. At present, Reliance Jio is the only operator in India offering voice on 4G network using VoLTE technology across the country.

Bharti Airtel director-networks Abhay Savargaonkar said: "Over the next few months, we will rapidly accelerate the deployment of VoLTE to cover all key geographies to bring HD quality calling to our customers. We keenly look forward to our device partners enabling Airtel VoLTE on their smartphones."

Reliance Jio's aggressive entry has led the Indian telecom space into heightened competition, forcing other operators to reduce tariffs. Aggressive competition has also hurt the financials of other operators. Mr Prabhakar of IDBI Capital Markets has a neutral stance on telecom stocks from a long-term perspective. However, he expects some pressure on the operator's financials in the short term.

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