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Reliance Jio eyes free data bundling deal with all smartphone vendors to push subscriber base

As Reliance Jio Infocomm gets set for the commercial launch of 4G services, the company is entering into partnerships with almost all smartphone makers to bundle three months of free data and voice with handsets. A first for the Indian market, this is seen as a way of ramping up users rapidly while providing a push to smartphone sales, said two executives aware of the plan.

A deal has been struck with Samsung and sales of the devices have already begun, said a retailer. A pact with Apple is also said to be in the works.

“Reliance Jio’s launch will be phased and based on smartphones that have cleared all tests,” said one of the two. “The company expects this strategy will help to instantly build up its consumer base even before the commercial launch expected anytime this year.” The scheme will be available across price bands.

While Jio opened up its network to staff and others last year, the company said July 15 it’s in a high state of readiness for a commercial launch. Reliance Jio already has more than 1.5 million subscribers, which include customers of its Lyf smartphones, employees and business partners including retailers. Buyers of the bundled devices will be eligible for a SIM card that will allow them to access the Jio network immediately. The three months of free data and talk plan will continue if Jio does not commercially launch its services and tariff plans by then.The bundling deal will be available for all devices that Jio signs up, even those bought before the scheme began.

A senior executive at a leading south India-based cellphone retail chain said Jio’s bundling scheme with Samsung has catalysed sales. “Sales of the Samsung handsets which have the Jio bundling scheme has grown by 15-20% since the launch last week,” he said.

A report by Morgan Stanley Research said Reliance Jio is expected to have 30 million subscribers by the end of this fiscal year with revenue of over $1 billion.

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