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Expanding the Home Broadband Space

The under-penetrated Indian home broadband market, with a mere 7.5 connections per one hundred households, seems finally back on track. The tally was 18.52 million wired broadband subscribers, end July. With 9.05 million users, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is the market leader, followed by Bharti Airtel at 2.4 million, Atria Convergence at 1.47 million, Hathway Cable and Datacom at 0.85 million; and Vodafone Idea’s YOU Broadband at 0.75 million. The other players in the 324-broadband providers’ market are small or regional operators.

With the recent launch of JioFiber and Bharti Airtel’s Xstream, the Indian consumer is experiencing high-speed broadband like never before, accessing digital content on a screen of his choice. Premium OTT content, streaming applications, HD television channels, and virtual-reality apps to interactive gaming services are all within reach. And the super-premium customer may also get a complimentary television set along with a set-top box.

While the average revenue per user (ARPU) ranging from ₹400 to ₹1000 a month, with 100-GB plans generating ₹600 to ₹1000, are comparable for both providers, Bharti offers free subscription of popular OTT players like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Jio is able to offer high speed beyond the metros and large towns, partnering with LCOs, thereby accelerating the rollout of last-mile connectivity.

The aggressive tactics of these two large players may spur merger activity, much as it did in the mobile sector. Satellite providers including Tata Sky and Dish TV, and possibly even Indian cinemas (in the coming year, JioFiber subscribers have been promised movies on the same day they are released in cinemas) are feeling the heat. Of course, viewers may opt for an option with hardware from Google or Amazon, coupled with a TataSky or Hotstar app.

The latest consultation paper Tariff-Related Issues for Broadcasting and Cable Services from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has created quite a stir. Discovery Communications has even filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court seeking a stay saying that it lacks objectivity, transparency, and fairness of approach.

We look forward to meeting our readers at Broadcast India 2019, being held from October 17 to 20 in Mumbai.

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