Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel wants US$50 devices for developing markets

Sunil Mittal, chairman and MD of Bharti Airtel said that India and Africa need a $50 tablet in order to spur adoption of mobile technologies. Speaking at a conference session at MWC, Mittal called on the industry to focus on bringing the cost of smartphones and tablets down to those of feature phones.

Mittal said that the market penetration of smartphones in India is just five per cent. “We are seeing tremendous uplift in the data usage in the developing work. The problem is on the devices side. We need to be able to build very affordable smartphones.”

Mittal said that a low price point for devices would spur broadband usage, which he said would be a ‘game changer’ for some 300 million children in need of education.

Mittal said that the cost of mobile tariffs also needs to come down for the masses to be able to afford access to mobile data. There was an even more pressing concern for this in Africa than in India, due to the lack of middle class in the country, which in India subsidised the cost of access to a small extent for the masses.

“The cost of operations in Africa is very high. We can’t bring the tariffs down yet. In India the first dollar goes on phone and then the next goes on telephony. In Africa, any savings on telephony will go into food.”


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