NEW DELHI: The past few weeks have seen India’s big three telecom firms—Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vi (Vodafone Idea)—turn much greater focus on the wired or fixed-line internet segment. But, deep pocketed as they are, recent data shows that a large number of small, local service providers have established themselves in the segment, and the minnows may yet give the whales a run for their money.
According to the most recent subscription data released by TRAI this week, the fixed-line or wired broadband segment has seen a renaissance of sorts during the peak lockdown months—no doubt one of the reasons for the heightened interest from telecom’s big three.
After a relatively flat few months, the number of wired broadband subscribers rose sharply during the month of July, with TRAI stating that this figure went up from 19.82 million at the end of June to 20.13 million at the end of July.
“After remaining flat for the past several years, this number improved at 6 per cent over April to July 2020 (1.1 million subscriber adds to reach 20 million),” noted a research note from Motilal Oswal Financial Services. However, what is surprising is the break-up of the new subscribers added, which shows that the large majority have gone to very small, “very localised”, service providers.
“Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel surprisingly gained just 28 per cent share, while 70 per cent share was bagged by small fragmented players with market shares below 5 per cent.” noted the Motilal Oswal note.
Industry experts say this is due to the fact that small, local distributors were first movers in the optical fibre, hi-speed internet space. However, they also note that the market is set for disruption now that larger players are moving in.
6% rise in wired broadband users in April-July period
70% of new users bagged by small service providers
Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel were only able to capture 28%