To boost mobile Internet usage and data services, the government is exploring possibility of manufacturing smartphones in India priced at less than Rs 6,000 ($100).
Currently, smartphones from leading brands in India cost about Rs 9,000 or more.
Of the 650 million mobile phones in the Indian market, only 12% are smartphones.
Smartphones are generally touchscreen mobile phones running on operating systems such as Android, Apple iOS, Linux, MS Window, and Blackberry OS.
“India’s broadband penetration is very low even though it is one of the largest telecom markets in the world. It is not possible to provide broadband connection through fixed-line telephony.
Now mobile operators are focusing on data services. If we are able to provide mobile phones at low cost, broadband penetration will improve,” said a department of telecommunications (DoT) official.
The industry says the government will have to develop the whole ecosystem in order to improve broadband penetration. Currently, there is no content in local languages.
“If we are able to concentrate on local language content and local applications that are tailor-made to India’s requirements, people will buy smartphones,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, national president of the Indian Cellular Association (ICA), which represents handset manufacturers and suppliers.
Currently, no Indian company makes smartphones. It is not yet decided how the government would encourage companies to manufacture sub-$100 smartphones.