An industry working group comprising figures from the GSMA, Orange, Reliance Jio and MTN called for information from handset makers to assess whether a smartphone could be produced for emerging markets at a retail price of $20.

The group issued a Request for Information (RFI) to device vendors with a closing date for proposals of 31 December. Should a smartphone at the desired price point go to market as a result of the initiative, the GSMA said it would help publicise the device.

Efforts are an attempt to lower the cost of entry for smartphones and allow those who have adopted basic data services on smart feature phones to expand their usage into more advanced services.

In the proposal document, the group noted: “An initiative of this nature would be essential in breaking down a barrier to global connectivity for the low-income user.” It will be targeted at increasing inclusion in emerging markets with India and Africa cited as key opportunity areas.

Manufacturers submitting proposals have been asked to supply costings and comments on minimum specifications for a 3G smartphone, 4G smartphone and 4G smart feature phone. Proposals must be based on the use of entirely new components.