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NEW DELHI: Reliance Jio has entered into a commercial pact with Google to jointly develop entry-level affordable 4G and possibly 5G smartphones in the future with an aim to make India ‘2G-mukt’ or free of 2G technology.

Under the partnership, Google will provide optimisations to its Android operating system and the Play Store for smartphones that Jio will launch in the market, the two firms said on Wednesday. Google is also aiming to take the affordable smartphones and services developed out of its partnership with Jio to the rest of the world. Analysts said Jio may well end up launching the cheapest operator-bundled 5G device worldwide.

The pact came on the back of Google’s Rs 33,737 crore investment plan in Jio’s parent, Jio Platforms, for a 7.73% stake. “We believe we can design entry-level 4G… or even 5G smartphone for a fraction of its current cost. To power such a value-engineered smartphone, we also need an equally value-engineered operating system… and such an operating system must be designed from grounds-up,” Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, said in a speech at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

Google and Jio are partnering to build just such a smartphone operating system in India, Ambani said, adding that there is a need to accelerate the migration of 350 million Indians, who currently use a 2G feature phone, to an affordable smartphone.

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