BSNL partners with Lava Micromax

It’s no secret that India is the fastest growing mobile phone market. With 1.19 billion mobile subscriptions India is closing the gap with China to become the biggest country by the number of mobile phone subscriptions. However, unlike China, the penetration of Smartphone is still at the disappointing stage. With just 450 million smartphone users, feature phone market is still quite lucrative and sizable market to tap. As the quarterly adoption fo smartphone is slowing down, mobile phone vendors have once again started focusing back to feature phone market.

Few days after the announcement of the Aircel-Lava phone, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has announced that they are tying up with Indian smartphone OEMs Micromax and Lava to build low-cost smart feature phones as well. According to sources, state-owned BSNL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the two companies to this effect.

It would seem that low-cost smart feature phones with a focus on data consumption are all the rage these days in the Indian mobile telecom sector. After the launch of the much-hyped Jio Phone, many other companies have followed the suite.

The Jio Phone piqued the interest of the industry with its effectively zero cost smart feature phone which would support most basic smartphone functionality such as 4G connectivity, video streaming web browsing and more. The Jio Phone also came with exclusive monthly plans, which are noticeably cheaper than the competition.

The launch of the Jio Phone was followed by rumours of a possible 4G feature phone by Airtel, priced at under Rs 2000.

Just a few days ago, we also reported on Aircel and Lava’s collaboration to bring an even cheaper handset to the market. Priced at only Rs 850, with exclusive plans and 100% cash back after 24 months, it is poised to compete with Jio and Airtel’s offerings.

Now, BSNL has become the first state-owned operator to buy into this new trend. As of now, we do not have any concrete details about what this phone will offer. However, it is very likely to cost below the Rs 2000 mark in order to remain competitive in the market. It may also feature 4G compatibility, as BSNL draws closer and closer to mass roll-out of its much awaited 4G VoLTE network.

Looking at the companies involved in this collaboration, this deal has to be considered a positive one for BSNL. Although BSNL’s market share is a very modest 8.81% as of July 2017, it still constitutes a massive 104.56 million subscribers. This move should help BSNL remain competitive in a market which is currently in flux. Also, there are still some regions of India where BSNL provides the best connectivity options, and users in these regions can benefit from their ultra-low-cost phone offering.

Of course, this deal is also beneficial for Micromax and Lava. Once rising stars of the Indian smartphone industry, both companies have been struggling immensely for nearly 2 years now. This also marks a double coup for Lava, who is now collaborating with both Aircel and BSNL to manufacture ultra low-cost phones.