That’s the title of my latest story, out Thursday. It begins: 🎁 <-- free link
Even as 5G mobile networks begin to expand in India, about half of the country’s 1.4 billion people remain disconnected from the Internet.
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is betting a new web-enabled mobile phone that costs about $12 can change that and win yet more customers for his dominant wireless-network provider.
The device, launched in July by Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm, resembles the simple, durable Nokia phones from decades past. It has a physical keyboard, a small screen and a camera, and comes in basic colors like blue, black, gray and red.
While the device isn’t 5G-capable, it offers 4G speeds, meaning it can stream music and video via pre-installed apps from Reliance Jio’s services, which include content such as Bollywood films, cricket matches and pop music. The phone can also be used to make digital payments, a practice that has boomed in India in recent years.
Many Indians who are online access the Internet via smartphones. But a smartphone in India typically costs more than $250, far out of reach for millions of people who make just a few dollars a day.
“There are still 250 million mobile-phone users in India who remain trapped in the 2G era, unable to tap into basic features of the internet,” Akash Ambani, Mukesh Ambani’s son and the chairman of Reliance Jio, said when launching the phone. He was referring to people using basic mobile devices, which often lack web connections.
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