How India's broadband players plan to outdo Mukesh Ambani's JioFiber game
Competitors slashing prices is good news for consumers. | More bang for your buck.
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After causing a bloodbath in the telecom sector with its disruptive pricing strategy, Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio has now set its sights on wreaking havoc on the broadband sector too. Jio, which set foot in the crowded telecom market in September 2016, out-muscled established players to capture a user base of more than 100 million customers in a matter of months.
With the deep pockets of the Reliance Industries backing its gamble, Jio entered the market with its free offers that caught its competition off guard, triggering a round of price cuts and consolidation in the telecom sector.
JioFiber recently confirmed that it's testing the waters in six cities – Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Surat, and Vadodara. The company is running a Jio-style three-month introductory offer under which JioFiber will offer free high-speed internet for the first 90 days. But unlike its telecom offering, users will have to pay a refundable sum of Rs 4,500 for its Wi-Fi router.
Now with JioFiber impending move to the wired broadband sector, existing players are in no mood to let it disrupt the status quo. Several broadband players have already tweaked their plans to ensure they can fight JioFiber, when it finally commences commercial operations.
Airtel on Wednesday announced 'larger bundles of data at existing prices'. (Credit: Reuters photo)
Extending the price war to the wired broadband sector
Much to the cheer of thousands of broadband users, Airtel on Wednesday (May 17) announced "larger bundles of data at existing prices" for its broadband subscribers. The move will essentially translate to Airtel almost doubling the high-speed data benefits for the same price under its refreshed plans. Earlier in a statement, the telecom giant said, "The new plans offer up to 100 per cent more high-speed data benefits within the same monthly rentals."
The revised pricing in the Delhi circle will see the Rs 899 plan now offer 60GB high-speed data compared to the earlier 30GB, while the Rs 1,099 plan will now offer 90GB of data compared to the previous 50GB. Similarly, the Rs 1,299 plan now offers 125GB compared to 75GB, the Rs 1,499 plan offers 160GB compared to 100GB earlier, and the Rs 1,799 plan offers as much as 220GB of data. The company said in a statement that pricing in other sectors will also be on the same lines.
Other new entrants in the market with considerably much-smaller pockets have also started to revise their plans in anticipation of a spell of increased competition. Broadband provider, Excitel, which operates in Hyderabad and Delhi, recently reworked its plans to provide more than double the speeds at existing prices. The company's entry-level plan for Rs 695, which previously provided 20 Mbps speed will now offer a minimum speed of 50 Mbps, while its top of the line Rs 995 plan has been bumped up to provide blistering speeds of 100 Mbps – double its previous 50 Mbps at the same price point.
What about speed?
The biggest differentiating factor of Jio's wired broadband offering are the promised ultra-fast speeds. Early users who had access to the service had claimed JioFibre touching speeds of close to 1 Gbps. Users had even tweeted that on a 1 Gbps connection they were getting over 700 Mbps speeds. However, the JioFibre has now announced that during its trial period, it will offer users a 100 Mbps plan with 100 GB of data, beyond which their speeds will be throttled to 1Mbps.
Leading player Airtel is also looking to take JioFiber threat here too after it recently upgraded its network capability to deliver high-speed data connectivity through fixed-line phones, using the V-Fiber technology. Airtel's latest technology claims to offer up to 100 Mbps.