It seems like the VoLTE wars between telecom operators is about to begin. PTI reports that Bharti Airtel is planning to roll out VoLTE services across India by the end of the current financial year. During its earning call, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia ) Bharti Airtel said, “We have done (VoLTE) trials in 5-6 cities. Towards the end of this fiscal year, we will be taking VoLTE everywhere. The uptake of VoLTE devices will depend on certification...We should be very much national in the coming 6-9 months.”
Newcomer, Reliance Jio is currently the only operator to offer voice calls using 4g Volte technology. The other established companies like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and so forth use more established networks such as 2G or 3G. Vittal noted that 3G networks in India my be phased out more quickly as compared to the rest of the world and there will be a situation where 4G will 2G will coexist for a while.
Vittal also mentioned the new JioPhone launched by Reliance Jio, which is a 4G features phone. However, he said that Airtel will not be doing the same. “One of the things that we have stayed away and have no intention to get into is subsidising device, managing device inventories and running these devices as they belong to us,” he said.
Although Vittal did note that the feature phone will open up a new segment for 4G services. He added that the JioPhone may propel the launch of cheaper phones in the market and notes that Airtel is working with device manufacturers to encourage this. However, he also said that the price of the feature phone is higher than what is currently available in the market. “60-65 percent feature phones are sold below Rs. 1,000 in India. This is higher end of that. We need to understand what the terms and conditions are and how customers respond. We will respond at the right point of time.” Vittal said.
To recall, Reliance Jio launched the JioPhone a few days ago at an effective price of Rs 0, though buyers will need to give Rs 1,500 as a security deposit. This amount would be returned to them after three years. The device comes with a bunch of features such as voice commands, Jio apps and more. However, there are still things that we don’t yet know about the phone, but these should be answered after the phone becomes available. The phone is scheduled to be available for pre-booking from August 24.