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General News Airtel counters JioPhone with 4G smartphone at Rs 1399, inks deal with Karbonn
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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has tied up with home-bred handset maker Karbonn Mobiles to offer 4G smartphone effectively at the price of a feature phone as part of its ‘Mera Pehla 4G Smartphone’ initiative, which is aimed at enabling every Indian to buy a 4G smartphone and get on to the digital superhighway, the Sunil Mittal-led telco said on Wednesday.

Under the partnership, the Karbonn A40 Indian, which is available in the market at Rs 3499, will be offered at an effective price of just Rs 1399. The 4G smartphone will come bundled with a monthly pack of Rs 169 from Airtel, which offers generous data and calling benefits.

Under the ‘Mera Pehla 4G Smartphone’ initiative, Airtel will partner with multiple mobile handset manufacturers to create an ‘open ecosystem’ of affordable 4G smartphones and bring them to market for virtually the price of a feature phone.

The move is aimed at countering Reliance Jio's 4G feature phone, JioPhone, which is available at Rs 1500 in the market. The telco aims to complete the delivery of its 6 million JioPhones by Diwali, the first lot of which has already been dispatched to the customers. The Mukesh Ambani-owned company’s 4G feature phone is expected to be the next big disruptor in the telecom industry, which, for the past four quarters, has been engulfed in a brutal tariff war that has eroded revenues and profits of older players.

Separately, Vodafone India and state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) are roping in domestic handset vendors to offer spruced up deals on feature phones as they step up efforts to prevent their customers from switching to Reliance Jio Infocomm. Vodafone India, the country’s No. 2 telco, recently tied up with Lava and Intex to offer bundled voice plans and cashback with 2G feature phones. BSNL said it is partnering with Lava and Micromax to unveil co-branded feature phones in October at close to Rs 2,000 with bundled goodies such as free calls.

“As the market leader and pioneer of 4G services in India, Airtel’s aspiration is to digitally empower every Indian with high speed data access. We plan to partner with multiple manufacturers to bring affordable smartphone options to the market and build an ‘open ecosystem’ of low cost devices. This is yet another step in our ongoing journey to deeply understand customers and bring innovation that delights them," Raj Pudipeddi, Director – Consumer Business & CMO, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

The customer needs to make a down payment of Rs 2899 for the 4G smartphone and make 36 continuous monthly recharges of Rs 169. The customer will get a cash refund of Rs 500 after 18 months and another Rs 1000 after 36 months, taking the total cash benefit to Rs 1500, Airtel said in a statement.

In case the customer does not wish to opt for the Rs 169 bundled plan, a customer has the flexibility of doing recharges of any denomination and validity as per individual requirements. However, to claim the cash refund benefit, recharges worth Rs 3000 must be done within the first 18 months to claim the first refund installment of Rs 500 and another Rs 3000 over the next 18 months to claim the second refund installment of Rs 1000.

The ownership of the smartphone is completely with the customer and there is no need to return the device to Airtel/Karbonn at any point to claim the cash benefit, the telco said.

The Google Certified – Karbonn A40 Indian has a full touch screen plus dual SIM slots, and offers complete access to all apps on Google Play Store, including YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp.

All smartphones under the ‘Mera Pehla 4G Smartphone’ initiative will be available at leading mobile stores across the country. After sales support for the devices will be provided by the handset manufacturers through their service network.

Bharti Airtel offers 4G/3G/2G services across all 22 telecom circles of India. Its network covers over 95% of India’s population.

Source:
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Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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