India's RCom Starts Subsidizing iPhones

A wireless carrier subsidizes phones to boost spending on data
A customer tries out an Apple iPhone 5C at a Reliance Digital store in New Delhi on Nov. 2 Photograph by Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

Signing up for a monthly wireless contract to get a subsidized iPhone is common in the U.S., but in India, Apple fans are accustomed to paying the phone’s full price. In November, Reliance Communications (RCom), India’s third-largest mobile operator by market value, became the first to hand iPhone 5Cs to customers willing to commit to 2,599 rupees ($41) a month for 24 months. Gunjan Hasan, who got one at an RCom shop in Mumbai, says she’d been putting off buying a phone because of the upfront costs. “When you have a family and other expenses, you really need to think before paying up to 50,000 rupees [about $800] or so for just a phone,” says Hasan, 36, who works at KSA Development Venture, a teacher-development company in New Delhi.

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