Reliance Jio, whose entry into wireless telecom decimated the competition, seems to be all set to repeat its performance in the wired broadband space. The company added a whopping 3.03 lakh wired connections and 2.7 lakh fiber broadband connections in the month of September.
Before this, the record for the highest number of wired broadband addition in a single month was also set by Jio Fiber, when it added 1 lakh new users seen in July this year.
Jio’s strong uptick in subscriber additions coincided with the introduced of ultra-cheap fiber broadband plans starting at Rs 399 plus tax.
Before the new set of plans were introduced, Jio had been able to add only a maximum of 1 lakh new users per month.
KING OF FIBER BROADBAND
With the spurt in additions, Jio is already likely to have overtaken ACT as India’s largest fiber broadband provider.
As of September end, the difference between Jio Fiber and ACT was 2.1 lakh subscribers.
Given that the Mukesh Ambani firm is adding new subscribers in the lakhs per month, and ACT is adding 20,000-30,000 per month, Jio is likely to have already overtaken ACT either in October or in November.
As of September end, ACT had 17.3 lakh subscribers, while Jio Fiber has 15.2 lakh fiber broadband customers.
OVERALL WIRED MARKET
Even as Jio emerges as the No.1 fiber optic broadband provider in India, it is still placed at the third position when it comes to the overall wired broadband market in India.
India’s biggest wired broadband provider continues to be the rapidly shrinking BSNL.
BSNL, which lost 50,000 broadband users in September, had 78 lakh wired broadband customers as of the end of the month. However, most of these users are on copper-based DSL services, which provides a maximum bandwidth of around 10 Mbps.
At No.2 is Bharti Airtel with around 26 lakh (2.6 million) users. But here too, most of the users are on copper-based connections.
Given the difference in the pace of expansion, Jio is likely to overtake Bharti Airtel as India’s No.1 private sector provider of wired broadband services sometime in the June-September period.
Still, Airtel added 70,000 new users in September — an internal record for the company — as it continued to push ahead with its cable operator partnerships.
To take on Jio, the company has decided to tie-up with cable operators to provide its broadband services under a partnership in which Airtel will provide the plans, billing and upstream connectivity, while the cable operator will own and operate last-mile connectivity.
Hathway, the only other wired broadband operator in India’s top 5, added 20,000 new users in September.
Wired broadband is taking off in a big way in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting difficulties for people to meet in person.
Demand for high-speed internet is being driven by online education, work from home and on-demand entertainment, particularly video.
Jio Chairman Mukesh Ambani has set his eyes on signing up 50 million households, or about 20% of India’s total, to Jio Fiber services.