Indian 4G newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm reportedly plans to offer consumers heavily discounted mobile Wi-Fi (Mi-Fi) devices to attract data users who don’t have 4G-enabled smartphones.
Jio, which is rolling out its nationwide 4G network and plans to launch service by December, aims to expand the addressable 4G market by promoting Mi-Fi hotspots that allow users to stream data via 4G networks, the Economic Times said. The operator is targeting heavy data users at rival operators to rapidly expand its 4G customer base.
Most mobile subscribers in India don’t have 4G smartphones, which start at about INR5,000 ($75). Prices have dropped sharply over the past two years.
Mi-Fi devices sell for about INR3,000, and Jio is likely to reduce prices by about 50 per cent, telecom analyst Sandip Agarwal told the Times.
Airtel already offers its customers Mi-Fi hotspot access.
The country’s three largest mobile operators – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular – as well as Aircel and state-owned BSNL, have recently announced plans to launch 4G services by the end of the year or early in 2016.
Market leader Airtel has been aggressively pushing 4G across the country over the past few months and said it plans to expand its 4G service to 296 urban areas this year. Vodafone India, the country’s second largest operator, said it will launch 4G services in five cities, including Mumbai and Delhi, by the end of the year.
Aircel said it plans to roll out 4G services by the end of the year in the eight regions where it has 20MHz of 2.3GHz spectrum. Idea has plans to roll out 4G service by early next year in 10 regions and state-owned BSNL, a smaller mobile operator with an 8 per cent market share, said it will launch 4G service by next March.