To convert India’s 250 million 2G subscriber base to 4G cellular networks, Reliance Jio launched a Jio Bharat platform on Monday, allowing brands to create internet or 4G-enabled devices at substantively low-entry level prices. 

As per the press release, Reliance Retail and Indian smartphone manufacturer Karbonn Mobile are already developing smartphones under the Jio Bharat platform. The beta trial for the first 1 million Jio Bharat phones begins from July 7, 2023. This trial will be carried out in 6,500 tehsils. 

The starting price of phones on the Jio Bharat platform is ₹999, almost a fifth of Jio’s latest smartphone release launched last year. To break into the 2G subscriber base in India, Jio has been releasing its own devices since 2016, normally priced at entry-level rates. However since the launch of its first feature phone in 2016, the subsequent launches of smartphone devices such as Jio Phone Next have not done well in the market at all, with only 5 million devices having been sold so far.

Analysts believe Reliance is rethinking strategies, giving users on the 2016 Jio Phone devices a chance to renew their devices with the devices on the Jio Bharat platform. Reliance Jio has renewed its commitment to its entry-level base as well as per experts, indicating that it will not be increasing its entry-level tariffs, unlike Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, just yet. 

Users will get “a 30 per cent cheaper monthly plan and 7 times more data compared to feature phone offerings of other operators  at ₹123 per month for unlimited voice calls and 14 GB data,” Jio said.

Akash Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Jio, commented, “There are still 250 million mobile phone users in India who remain ‘trapped’ in the 2G era, unable to tap into basic features of the internet at a time when the world stands at the cusp of a 5G revolution.”