Idea To Counter Jio With Their Own Rs. 2500 VoLTE Handsets; Raises Net Neutrality Concerns
To counter the low cost Jio Phone, Idea too has now announced their own low-cost VoLTE handset. Last week Airtel did the same. Idea Cellular has also gone ahead and raised Net Neutrality concerns!
After Airtel, it is the turn of Idea Cellular to jump into the low cost handset distribution bandwagon, and the objective is same: To counter Jio’s onslaught into the niche.
Jio’s effectively free offering of low cost 4G enabled VoLTE handsets (you pay Rs 1500 now, and get money back after 3 years of usage) has triggered a new form of handset revolution in India, and Idea is the latest player in this battle.
However, along with the announcement of their slightly expensive VoLTE handsets (Rs 2500, instead of Rs 1500 from Jio), Idea has also declared a proxy war against Jio, by accusing them of violating net neutrality principles by offering locked low cost 4G feature phones.
And this way, a new dimension of telecom rivalry open up in India. Will this affect Jio’s expansion plans?
Idea: Jio Is Breaking Net Neutrality Principles
During an analyst call, Himanshu Kapania, the managing director of Idea Cellular, which is right now India’s third largest cellular provider, and if combined with Vodafone, India’s largest telecom player, directly accused Jio of breaking net neutrality principles by offering Rs 1500 4G enabled VoLTE handsets.
He said, “One of the concerns is about net neutrality. It will not allow most of the apps which a customer prefers and the choice of apps may not work because it is forcing consumers to use an individual operator’s apps..”
As per Himanshu, Jio’s handsets with free voice calls will appeal to those customers, who are heavy users of voice. But, he questioned whether Internet users will opt for this handset, as they cannot be used to access Whatsapp and other Android based apps.
He said that the Jio handset will have smaller screen size, won’t support Android, and using Internet would be tough when 97% of all existing smartphones users from India are Android based.
Idea’s Solution: Their Own Low Cost 4G Handsets
And this way, Idea Cellular announced the launch of their low cost 4G handsets, which would be used to support their own VoLTE based network which will be launched next year.
Idea’s handsets would be expensive, but, would allow the users to choose their own network, and their own apps, unlike what Jio is doing.
He said, “When the customer is given the freedom of choice of being able to use multiple networks as and when he desires, our belief is that the customer will choose the freedom of choice over locked handsets..” (referring to Jio)
As per Himanshu, Idea is attempting to bring down the Bill of Material (BoM), so that the handsets can be offered at cheaper prices. But still, the cost would be around Rs 2500.
He said, “So given this, we believe if we focus on bringing down the BoM and bringing down smartphone cost to Rs 2,500 or closer, we will be able to neutralise the impact of these feature phones. But, we will have to wait and see how these things unfold”.
Just like Airtel, Idea has also said that they will not subsidize the price of the handsets, but will make them cheap by other factors.
We will keep you updated as we receive more information..