BSNL Bringing Free Unlimited Calls With Co-Branded Phones; But What’s The Catch?

It will include bundled freebies and free unlimited calling



BSNL Offering Free Calls

Public owned telco BSNL has partnered with homegrown mobile manufacturers Lava and Micromax to come up with their own co-branded feature phones at around Rs. 2,000/-. They will be available with bundled freebies, which includes unlimited calling facility. They will be launching in October.


BSNL’s Collaborative Approach

The stiff competition in the telecom market has forced BSNL to move towards a more collaborative approach. The public telco firm is going to tie up with mobile manufacturers, Lava and Micromax to bring their own co-branded feature phones bundled with aggressive calling packages.

Feature Phone with Unlimited Calling At Rs. 2,000/-

The price of the upcoming co-branded feature phones has been fixed very strategically. Jio’s 4G feature phone costs Rs. 1500 and Airtel’s upcoming 4G feature phone will cost around Rs. 2500. As per the reports, both companies have worked out and estimated that the phones would cost around Rs 2,000/- bundled with free unlimited calls.

New Investment

The state owned operator has not yet revealed the initial spend figures in their new alliance. But the two manufacturers will produce the co-branded phones exclusively for BSNL’s 10.5 crore subscribers spread across India. The company has sold around 2.5 crore new SIM cards in the last fiscal year and has turned mobile number portability (MNP) positive with around 7.5 lakh subscribers from rival networks.

Festive Market Advantage

The new alliance is a win-win situation for both the state owned telco and device makers, as they have their phones launching ahead of Diwali which is falling on October 19 this year. As per the CyberMedia Research (CMR) survey, the revenues coming from the feature phones nearly constitute around 15% in terms of volume shipments. Feature phones hold nearly 57% of the total mobile market in India.

Unlimited Free Calls is the Headline

The feature phone market essentially falls into the voice-call zone, and free calls is still an attractive proposition for the semi-urban and rural consumers. A recent survey by Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and IMRB suggests that 85% of the feature phone users doesn’t want to switch to smartphones for their next purchase.

Homegrown Device Makers Given Priority

At a time when Chinese mobile manufacturers are ruling the phone market in the country, local handset firms Lava and Micromax have been given the priority by BSNL. This will help them gain on shipment index with BSNL’s stable consumer base, where Chinese rivals like Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Gionee have taken up more than 50% of the mobile market. Roughly two years back Lava, Micromax, Karbonn and Intex enjoyed around 60% of the market share, where Chinese handset makers now have surpassed a whooping 51% share in the market.

India Is Dumping Ground for Chinese Manufacturers

With an eroding market share, local device makers like Micromax, Lava and Karbonn Mobiles have recently accused their Chinese counterparts of dumping low-cost smartphones in India, which is making it difficult for them to survive in the market. The recent collaboration between BSNL and Lava-Micromax will probably help the two local manufacturers with their shipment index and market share.

The Jio 4G Feature Phone Effect?

The launch of Jio 4G Feature Phone forced the other manufacturers and telecom operators to come with their own cheap feature phones. First Airtel, then Idea and now BSNL. Jio started a price war last year with their cheap plans offering unlimited free voice calls, which resulted in a big imbalance in the telecom market. Their recent 4G feature phone has forced the operators to rethink on their policies and offerings, and innovate for their existence in the market.

The collaboration will help both BSNL, Lava and Micromax to fight against Jio and the Chinese rivals collectively! Will you be buying these feature phones from BSNL for free unlimited calls? Let us know in the comments below.

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