Mukesh Ambani unveils Reliance Jio phone at ‘effective price zero’

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India’s wealthiest man Mukesh Ambani on Friday announced the launch of Jio “intelligent” phone, offering life-long free voice calls bundled with 4G data streaming at an “effective price of zero”.

Ambani, who had taken the telecom sector by surprise with free voice calls and data last year, announced the next leap at the company’s 40th shareholder meeting on Friday.

The phone, targeted at 50 crore feature phone users in the country, will be available for pre-booking from August 24 on payment of a refundable security deposit of Rs 1,500.

This deposit will be refunded after 36 months on return of the phone, he said, adding that the price of the phone will be “effective zero”.

He used the occasion to introduce his twin children, Akash and Isha, who presented the phone features that include calls and text messaging on voice command, Internet surfing and cable to connect the device to TV to view content, including videos.

“JioPhone will make the 2G feature phone obsolete,” Ambani claimed, adding that the company is looking to bring 5 million phones to the market a week.

The JioPhone will be available for user testing in beta mode from August 15 and for pre-booking from August 24.

“Reliance democratised the equity culture in the past.

Now, Jio will democratise the digital culture in India,” he asserted. “Digital Life will no longer be the privilege of the affluent few.”

Out of the 78 crore phones in India, Ambani said, 50 crore are feature phones that cannot be used for Internet or data usage. The new phone would give “affordable” device to these 50 crore users and “end the digital exclusion in India”.

Reliance Jio, the fourth-generation telecom arm of Reliance Industries, will provide unlimited data on the phone for Rs 153 per month.

Jio, he said, already has 125 million users since its launch in September last year.

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