Reliance Jio unveiled plans to launch an entry-level internet-capable handset for INR999 ($12.18) targeting the 250 million users it stated are still using 2G feature phones.
Jio stated it will launch beta trials on 7 July for the first 1 million Jio Bharat phones, offering unlimited calls and 14GB of data for INR123 a month.
It claimed the plan gives users seven-times more data and is 30 per cent less expensive compared with feature phone offerings from rivals.
In addition to its own manufacturing, Jio is opening the Jio Bharat platform to other device makers, citing domestic smartphone company Karbonn as the first to sign up.
Counterpoint Research partner and research VP Neil Shah tweeted Jio continues to take steps to bridge the digital divide by putting 4G internet-capable phones in hands of 2G feature phone users.
Jio introduced the low-cost JioPhone within a year of launching service, offering unlimited voice and access to for INR153 a month. Customers had to pay a deposit of INR1,500 for the phone which was refunded after three years.
It released a mass-market smartphone jointly developed by the digital arm of its parent company and Google in late 2021.