A nationwide cut in the monthly cellphone bill could come into effect on April 25, 2019, as the country prepares for the National Mobile Telecommunications Day.
The new policy, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, will bring down the basic cost of a cellphone from Rs 2,500 to Rs 1,300 by 2020.
According to the plan, the subsidy will be reduced to Rs 600 for those under 25, Rs 600 to Rs 300 for those aged over 65, and Rs 1.3 lakh for those over 80.
Those who use a mobile phone more than once a day or on weekends will have to pay a 50% reduction in the subsidy for the first six months, then a further reduction of 50% per month until the cost reaches Rs 3,000.
The change is being introduced to protect the rural population from being exposed to high mobile phone charges.
However, the government has also decided to allow for higher-end smartphones that would cost more.
This includes a new model that will have a 4G handset and a faster memory speed of up to 4G, up from 3G.
On the other hand, the subsidies will not apply to smartphones costing less than Rs 20,000 and up to Rs 50,000, as per the plan.
“The government has decided to offer lower subsidy to mobile phone users under the age of 25, as well as to those over 65 years of age,” a senior official told PTI.
This is in line with the government’s commitment to help rural households and the poor, he added.
A major reason behind the policy is to combat mobile phone addiction and suicide among the rural and remote population.
It is a key factor in India’s population growth.
According to the World Bank, over 70% of rural Indians have at least one smartphone, while over 50% of Indians in the rural areas have at most one smartphone.
While the government is looking to help people who have lost their smartphone due to a financial hardship, it will not cover the cost of the new subsidy for those who do not have a smartphone.
It is not clear how the new smartphone subsidies will be funded, and how the government will be able to cover the additional costs incurred by those who don’t have a cellphone.