NEW DELHI :
Home broadband operators, who had so far relied on selling internet connections by pulling the duct till your home, are now eyeing a bigger slice of the pie by morphing into integrated content and services platforms with consumers demanding more value for their money.
These operators believe that this can help them increase customer stickiness through offerings such as gaming and smart home experiences. The home broadband operators could provide these through partnerships and by ultimately becoming an integrated platform to meet the digital needs of consumers.
Bala Malladi, chief executive officer of Atria Convergence Technologies Ltd (ACT), says: “We are not the masters of the universe when it comes to content. We can, however, become a one-stop shop for you and deliver content through partnerships. If you subscribe to Netflix through us, you will get a discounted price. We also have a lot of events planned around the gaming community, which is a loyal customer base for us."
ACT, India’s second-largest private wired broadband firm after Bharti Airtel, offers high-speed internet in 19 cities, most of which are in south India. The company is slowly expanding into cities such as Jaipur and Lucknow.
ACT Fibernet launched the ‘ACT Stream TV 4K’ across top metros in August to offer consumers movies, TV shows, sports, music videos, and live TV from existing on-demand streaming providers and TV channels. Customers can pay for their subscription directly as part of the ACT Fibernet monthly bill.
This strategy mirrors the events in the mobile services space when Jio entered three years ago. At that time, mobile operators were selling vanilla offerings of data and voice calls. However, they now offer mobile data tariff and content as a bundle.
To Jio’s credit, the wired broadband space is also seeing this change. Reliance Jio formally launched its wired broadband offering, JioFiber, last week. Starting with a basic monthly plan of ₹699 for 100GB, and an additional 50GB of promotional data, at 100mbps speed, customers can enjoy free voice calls and video conferencing through a compatible TV, besides high-speed gaming and content sharing across the home network. Premium JioFiber customers can enjoy immersive shopping through wearable headsets and even view first-day-first shows of certain movies in their homes. All plans will enable gaming, with your smartphone doubling up as a game controller.
A few days before JioFiber’s launch, rival Bharti Airtel also announced a converged digital entertainment platform, Xstream. Airtel Xstream, priced at ₹3,999, is an Android-based over-the-top (OTT) stick that also provides access to Airtel’s movie roster, OTT library, and Airtel’s Wynk Music’s catalogue.
“The US is already familiar with the phenomenon of cord-cutting, while India is a unique and diverse market in the sense that people are still watching content across platforms, on the move and at home," Adarsh Nair, chief product officer, Bharti Airtel, had said last week.
Airtel says the immediate target for Xstream is urban India but it should eventually penetrate all of the country. ACT also believes that there is a lot of room to grow.
“The current level of penetration of wired broadband in the country is just 7%. There is significant room to expand and grow the market," Malladi said.
As of June-end, India had only 18.42 million wired broadband users against 575.63 million wireless broadband subscribers, according to data from Telecom Regulator Authority of India.