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Spice to offer rent-a-phone

Spice Mobile is in process of finalising a deal with Indian Railways, after which these phones will be sold on railway platforms, reports M Rajendran.

business Updated: Apr 15, 2007 19:56 IST

Mobile phone prices, dropping steeply, are set to fall lower still. Some models will soon cost just Rs 1000 - handset, with fully activated SIM card inside. They will even be available on rent, the Rs 1000 being refunded when the mobile is returned.

Spice Mobile is in the process of finalising a deal with Indian Railways, following which these Rs 1000 phones will be sold on railway platforms.

Spice's 'people's handset' will be available from next month, bunched with pre-activated SIM cards from different operators. Kunal Ahooja CEO, Spice Ltd, told the Hindustan Times, "The handsets will be loaded with many features and will have an aesthetic design. Initially we will procure them from our equipment manufacturers in China. But by the year end we intend to manufacture them at our plant at Badhi in Himachal Pradesh."

Commenting on the availability of handsets on railways platforms, Ahooja said his company already provides a railway enquiry system through its business process-outsourcing firm, Cellebrum, and can load railways-related content on handsets sold on the kiosks to be set up on platforms.

"The rent-a-phone concept is not new, worldwide it is available. But with such low-cost phones, we can provide the flexibility of buying or renting a phone at one railway station and redeeming the deposit at another; you pay just for the airtime."

Spice Mobile phones will also launch dual mode handsets by July which would allow users to have one connection each from two operators using two different technologies. For example, most mobile users find interconnection with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd difficult, making it impossible to remain connected in many areas in the country. So, they depend on public booths -- or keep another handset with different connection.

"It is huge market. Those who have GSM connections (BSNL/Airtel/Hutch/Idea) can also have CDMA SIM (Tata or Reliance) on the same phone and need not carry two phones. We are likely to price the handset at about Rs 10,000," said Ahooja.

And if you are an aficionado of movie on mobile, next year the company will launch mobile phone with a DVD disk that would have a three-hour battery life. The product has been designed and developed by a California-based company and has licenced Spice to manufacture and distribute not only in India but also worldwide.

Spice has joined hands with Reliance retail to hawk its handsets. Reliance would also be the one-stop shop for the after-sales service.

First Published: Apr 15, 2007 19:53 IST