As telcos like Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm
plan to roll out long-term evolution (LTE
), or 4G
, services early next year, handset makers are gearing up with devices that can be used in India with expected voice facilities. But prices are likely to be on the higher side. According to market insiders, devices that can be used in India are expected to be priced between Rs 15,000 and Rs 44,500.
Devices that are used globally for LTE or 4G cannot be used in India as the technology here would be different. Developing devices for TD LTE network is important for the device makers as the world’s top two most populated countries — China and India—use this technology, while all the developed countries use FD LTE.
While the government had auctioned the broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum in 2010, operators were not allowed to offer voice services using BWA spectrum. Early this year, the government has decided to allow voice over LTE.
Home-grown Jaina Marketing & Associates, which markets Karbonn Mobiles, has developed a five-inch screen device that is likely to be priced at Rs 26,000 for consumers, said managing director Pradeep Jain. “We have already given the device to Relaince Jio for testing.”
Karbonn, however, is also planning to launch LTE handsets
at lower price segments starting from about Rs 4,000 in future. “We need products for the mass market. But that would depend on how operators roll out the service,” he added.
China-based handset-maker Huawei has said the company is currently testing devices, mainly smartphones, with China Mobile and Reliance Jio, as both India and China would have the same technology. “Smartphones would be priced between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 in India,” said a spokesperson. Last year, Huawei had said it would start offering 4G smartphones with Bharti Airtel.
The country’s second biggest smartphone seller, home-grown Micromax, which declined to give details, is also testing devices — both smartphones and dongles—with Reliance Jio, according to market sources.
South Korean electronics major LG Electronics has said consumers will be able to use its recently launched G2 smartphone for LTE or 4G services in India as well, when the service is launched. LG’s 5.2-inch screen G2 smartphones are priced at Rs 41,500 (16GB) and Rs 44,500 (32GB) in India.
Last month, LG India Managing Director Soon Kwon had said the company targets about Rs 150-200 crore of sales revenue from the G2 alone.
The country’s largest smartphone seller Samsung Electronics has said decisions on LTE are being taken at its headquarters in South Korea. The company has reportedly held discussions with Reliance Jio, but a possible deal could not go through as Ambani wanted handsets starting from about Rs 5,000.
Chip-maker Qualcomm is working with device manufacturers to introduce cheaper 4G LTE phones.
The country’s largest telecom service provider Bharti Airtel offers LTE services (only data) in a few selected cities like Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune and Chandigarh. But it has just a few thousand customers to date. Interestingly, Airtel has reduced prices of 4G data service recently from Rs 4,999 to Rs 1,500, soon after it decided to cut tariff for 4G in June this year.