October 11, 2017 / 11:22 AM / a year ago

India's Bharti Airtel ties up with handset maker to launch cheaper 4G smartphone

Oct 11 (Reuters) - Bharti Airtel Ltd, India’s top telecom operator, said on Wednesday it had partnered with handset maker Karbonn Mobiles to introduce a 4G-enabled smartphone at the price of a feature phone.

The company said the price for the smartphone would be cut by about 60 percent to 1,399 rupees ($21.45) and will include a monthly pack of 169 rupees from the telecom operator. bit.ly/2g2NYoa

The buyer will have to make a down payment of 2,899 rupees for the smartphone, from which 500 rupees would be refunded after 18 months and the remaining 1,000 rupees after three years.

This plan comes against the backdrop of Reliance Industries Ltd’s telecoms arm Jio unveiling a low-cost 4G-enabled phone in July for a one-time refundable deposit of 1,500 rupees.

Jio’s disruptive pricing has upended the telecom industry because of which profits of incumbents such as Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular Ltd have shrunk rapidly.

Bharti Airtel said this would be the first of many partnerships with mobile handset makers to bring affordable 4G-enabled smartphones into the market.

($1 = 65.2150 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Jessica Kuruthukulangara in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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