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Indian telecommunications operator Reliance believes its new smartphone start-up Jio, which has produced a ‘free’ internet-enabled device entitled the ‘JioPhone’ – will bring connectivity to millions in rural parts of India.

Reliance has invested significantly into its new start-up venture, but it believes its new device will be the solution to the connectivity issues in India, which will subsequently create a brand new segment of smartphone users in the country.

The ‘JioPhone’ has been labelled as a ‘4G-enabled feature phone’ and Reliance has identified the glaring lack of affordable 4G-enabled devices in India. Its smartphone will introduce smartphone-like interfaces to first-time smartphone users that will cost consumers next to nothing. Customers will get the device for free, but will be required to put down a refundable security deposit of $US23.40, as well as pay for data packages which cost around US$2.40 per-month.

In addition to this, it has been further disclosed that all calls will be free forever, and that the deposit will be refunded when you return the handset. India is one of the biggest suppliers of internet labor in the entire world. However, 60% of its mobile population still relies on phones that can only provide the most basic call and text messaging services.

Analysts say the new device being peddled by Reliance would significantly benefit the poorest in India’s population, which would enable them to engage in technology that can provide them with access to web browsing capabilities and digital payments services. Some analysts have said the genius behind Reliance’s decision is in its ‘middle-ground’ quality, it’s not quite a smartphone in the traditional sense, and whilst it remains miles away from smartphones produced by Apple, Samsung and Huawei, it has far more capabilities than that of the legendary old-school phones like Nokia.

Jio got its breakthrough when Reliance decided to buy the company for a staggering $US30 billion from India’s wealthiest man, Mukesh Ambani. Reliance’s move towards this type of smartphone, creating new customers in the process which caters to a less cosmopolitan set who have never had accessible smartphone options, through local language scripts, long-lasting batteries and simple user interfaces. Users of the JioPhone will only be able to use SIM cards connected to the Reliance network.

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