After Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) and more recently Airtel announced ulta-affordable 4G handsets, it's now the state-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited's (BSNL) turn. BSNL has tied up with Indian smartphone makers Lava and Micromax to offer mobile handsets at low cost to its customers.

Logo of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) painted on a wall outside its office in Kolkata
BSNLREUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

"BSNL has tied up with Micromax and Lava to provide instruments (mobile phones) to BSNL customers at low cost." BSNL's Hyderabad Telecom District (HTD) Principal General Manager K Ramchand told at a press event.

The official announcement comes just days after it was reported that Micromax is partnering with BSNL to introduce an entry-level 4G VolTE feature phone called Bharat One to compete with Relaiance's JioPhone.

BSNL recently completed 17 years of service in India, and is now looking to tap into the affordable smartphone market by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Micromax and Lava. The state-run telco's choice of India phone makers is in keeping with the Make in India initiative.
The handsets manufactured as part of the deal will be bundled with BSNL SIM cards and offers with low-tariff rates.

"We are coming out with bundled offers on handsets manufactured by Micromax and Lava with BSNL SIMs. We do not yet have the final cost as it is being worked out, but it will be affordable. The arrangement is with the home-grown firms as part of the Make in India initiative," Ramchand added.

While the final cost of the handsets is still being worked out, we could expect them to fall under the Rs. 2,500 or less price band. No details about the phones technical specifications and features were revealed.

Meanwhile, it was reported recently that Airtel is planning to launch an affordable 4G smartphone under Rs. 2,500 to counter the buzz created by JioPhone which was launched in August. Airtel is expected to launch a 4G VoLTE-enabled smartphone with a bigger screen, better camera and better battery by the end of this month.