Reliance Jio is set to launch 4G-enabled handsets in the second week of September, ahead of the formal launch of its 4G services. The handsets, priced between Rs 5,000 and Rs 25,000, will see a nationwide launch through Reliance Retail under Reliance's consumer electronics brand, ReConnect.
Designed for the Indian market, the handsets will be configured to work across multiple frequencies on which 4G services are offered in the country. The handsets will be VOLTE (voice over LTE, commonly known as 4G)-enabled. Essentially, VOLTE means voice will be carried over the internet, unlike GSM services.
Reliance Retail will also sell Wi-Fi dongles.
At the launch of the 'Digital India' programme, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani had said his company was setting up a new distribution network that would enable 150,000 small retailers to sell and service smartphones and devices. The company is also working with 28 original equipment manufacturers to make devices for India. To give the government's 'Make in India' initiative a boost, he had also guaranteed offtake of these devices.
Industry observers see the handset launch as a precursor to a soft launch next month, in line with the company's plans. As part of its trial run, the company is expected to seed at least a million handsets in the coming months. In a speech, Ambani had said: "Over the next few months, we will initiate an extensive beta launch involving millions of friendly customers across all our markets. This beta programme will be upgraded into commercial operations around December this year."
When contacted, Reliance Jio declined to comment.
Like other operators, Reliance Jio is working hard to create a hardware ecosystem to deliver affordable handsets to consumers. Currently, the choice of 4G-enabled handsets is restrictive and price points are upwards of Rs 10,000.
Across countries, 4G mobile technology is offered on different radio frequencies. In India, LTE will be offered on the 2,300-MHz, 1,800-MHz and 850-MHz bands. Reliance Jio has pan-India spectrum in the 2,300-MHz band; it has 1,800-MHz band spectrum in 14 circles.