Russian operator MTS has started selling its own brand of “white-label” Android-powered smartphones and tablets specifically targeted for LTE. The MTS 1078 tablet costs RUB 9,990 (US $303.50), and the MTS 978 LTE smartphone costs RUB 8,490 (US $258). The Android 4.1 tablet features a 7-inch display and two cameras, including a 3-megapixel main camera. The smartphone is powered by the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The device features an HD-supporting 4-inch IPS (in-plane switching) screen and an 8-megapixel main camera.
As they develop and expand LTE networks, operators in many markets around the world are discovering that actual LTE use is lagging behind expectations, partly due to lack of awareness on the part of customers and partly to lack of devices that can fully transmit the advantages of LTE speeds to users. With this offer, MTS is “taking the bull by the horns” in two key ways: First, it is aggressively trying to place in customers’ hands devices that will support and therefore encourage LTE use, and by extension, increased purchases of big-data packages and plans. Second, it is using branding power to spread the word about LTE to its customers and potential customers. If the cost structure is right, we expect that the MNO’s investment in the device business will pay off in its core business.