Indian fixed broadband: upto 100+Mbps now, 1Gbps coming?
Telcos eye various options to scale up in fixed broadband, including taking over cable companies
Internet speeds in India averaged a pathetic 2.8Mbps in 4Q2015, as per Akamai Technologies' report. But things are changing.
Currently BSNL offers 100Mbps fixed broadband plans in 97 cities, but is handicapped by having insufficient bandwidth. Leading cable operators are offering 100-125Mbps on a shared basis. Among telcos, Airtel offers comparable speeds in a few cities, and Reliance Jio has reportedly begun 100Mbps JioFiber trials in Chennai.
Cable broadband has taken off in India, with a few companies adopting DOCSIS 3.0 and offering 100 to 125 Mbps speeds. Cable companies have seen a bright future in broadband, and there is also the possibility of being bought by telcos. Vodafone is thought to be buying You Broadband for Rs. 4 billion. Goldman Sachs has a share of around 25% in Den Networks, another cable broadband operator which plans to go public soon.
Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt Ltd., focused primarily on high-potential markets in south India (it has also entered Delhi-Gurgaon) is the largest non-telco ISP in India. It has chosen fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology, and offers fibernet, digital TV and HD TV services at monthly tariffs under Rs. 2,000, offering 50-100mbps speeds in Bengaluru.
The company has over a million broadband customers and is the biggest such provider among non-telco ISPs, adding 100,000 subscribers every four months. Including the telcos, ACT stands fourth, after BSNL, Bharti and MTNL. As on May 31, the top five wired broadband service providers by number of connections were BSNL (9.89 million), Bharti Airtel (1.79 million), MTNL (1.10 million), ACT (0.99 million) and YOU Broadband (0.55 million), according to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
Lukup Media, an on-demand TV and ad platform, has received a Unified License to launch data, TV, and video on demand services through a single connection in the country. It is operating a field trial on its gigabit wireless platform which operates outside licensed spectrum and can provide 1 Gbps connections for buildings and complexes.
Lukup says the gigabit wireless service will reduce the cost of network infrastructure and provide cheaper internet access. The company traditionally uses last mile optic fiber networks managed by cable operators to offer its services. It says that the gigabit service will let it operate in semi urban and rural areas where telecom network infrastructure is poor.
In keeping with its aim to bring new disruptive technology to India, its chairman Mukesh Ambani has announced grandiose plans to bring 1Gbps broadband to 100 cities in India.
Currently, 1Gbps services are offered, at two to three times the global rates, in tiny enclaves in and around Mumbai by Reliance Ultraband and Hayai, according to the web portal tech2. Jio may want to bring the service at rates competitive in India, to create disruptive change in fixed services also. Jio will have to use its own as well as Reliance Communications' domestic and international bandwidth to make it into the 1Gbps internet world.
Fortunately for the competition, Reliance has not given any dateline for its plans
Noka, Ericsson, Cisco, ZTE and others have set their sights at modernizing India's newly-digital cable industry. Industry watchers say the potential is good, as there are about 90 million cable households in India and broadband penetration is still very low.
Nokia provides technologies like GPON fibre-to-the-home, Ethernet aggregation and broadband network gateway IP routing technologies to cable firms. It has secured orders from Hathway and Den Networks.
Chinese gear maker ZTE secured the contract for Hathway's GPON network.
Based on newspaper reports