India's telecom giant Reliance launches free mobile phones

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-21 18:03:39|Editor: ZD
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NEW DELHI, July 21 (Xinhua) -- India's telecom giant and one of the largest corporate houses, Reliance Industries, Friday announced the launch of free mobile phones.

Announcing the launch of JioPhone, a brand-new feature phone, Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani said that it would deliver "digital independence" to all Indians.

Though the mobile phone effectively comes for free, there's a rule -- buyers will have to pay a security deposit of 1,500 rupees (20 U.S. dollars) which will be refundable after three years.

JioPhone users will also get the cheapest mobile data network in the world -- at just 153 rupees (two U.S. dollars) a month, while voice calls and SMSes will be free, Ambani announced.

Testing starts on August 15, while pre-booking for the phone starts on August 24, and it will be available from September on first-come first-serve basis.

Reliance had last year launched the Jio -- the world's cheapest mobile network -- last year, offering high-speed 4G internet at prices well below its rivals.

The company says it hopes to reach 90 percent of India's population within a year.

The firm had last year got into trouble because of its controversial newspaper advertisements using Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photograph.