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ACT leads in wired broadband subscriber additions in 2016

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BENGALURU: Atria Convergence Technologies Private Limited (ACT, ACT Broadband) leads in net wired broadband subscriber additions in calendar year 2016 (CY-2016) with 80,000 subscribers added during the first quarter of CY-2016 . As per data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), ACT?s broadband subscriber base as on 31 March 2016 (Mar-16) was 9.4 lakh as compared to the 8.6 lakh subscribers as on 31 December 2015 (Dec-15). ACT was closely followed by telecom major Airtel with 70,000 wired broadband subscriber additions until Mar-16 in CY-2016. Airtel?s wired broadband subscriber base in Mar-16 was 17.4 lakh.

Until 30 October 2015 (Oct-15), ACT Broadband was leading in wireline broadband internet subscriber additions in India during calendar year 2015. Both ACT and Bharti Airtel had added 230,000 subscribers in CY-15 until Nov-15. In December 2015, numbers released by TRAI indicated that as on 31 December 2015 (Dec-15), Bharti Airtel had added 2.6 lakh subscribers (subject to a granularity of 10,000) as compared to the 2.5 lakh subscribers added by ACT in the period between 31 December 2014 (hence 1 January 2015, Dec-14) and Dec-15. In terms of wireline internet subscription numbers, Airtel had 16.7 lakh subscribers while ACT had 8.6 lakh subscribers at the end of CY-2015.

As per TRAI data, the top five players in India in the wireline broadband internet space in pecking order are the public sector Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Bharti Airtel Limited (Airtel), public sector Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), Atria Convergence Technologies Private Limited (ACT, ACT Broadband) and You Broadband (You BB). Among these 5, only BSNL and Airtel could be termed national players at present. BSNL, Airtel and MTNL also provide wireline and mobile services while Airtel also has a direct to home (DTH) segment. ACT started off as an MSO with operations concentrated in a few major cities and towns located mainly in South India. It started internet services (ACT Broadband) a little later and has grown its broadband internet subscriber base over time, to the extent that it is quite likely the biggest private wireline broadband player in South India. You BB offers broadband operations in a few cities in Maharashtra, Gujarat the NCR region Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

While the public sector players BSNL and MTNL had been losing subscribers and/or market share until Feb-16, the three private players have been growing on both these parameters as Fig 1 below indicates. In CY-2016, until Mar-16, MTNL had lost 10,000 while BSNL gained 20,000 wired broadband subscribers with the addition of 30,000 in Mar-16 itself. You BB added 20,000 subscribers in CY-2016. BSNL?s wired broadband subscriber base as on 31 March 2016 was 99.4 lakh, while MTNL had 11.1 lakh subscribers. You BB had 5.3 lakh subscribers for Mar-15.

Note:(1) 100,00,000 = 100 Lakh = 10 million = 1 crore

(2) TRAI reports indicate data in millions of numbers up to 2 decimal places. Hence it is assumed in this report that a figure of 0.47 million (4.7 lakh) subscribers for You BB for July-2015 would be granular to the nearest 10,000. While percentages have been mentioned up to two decimal places, the accuracy may vary, depending upon the exact number.

(3) Industry sources say that TRAI numbers in the case of ACT for May-2015 are incorrect at 0.66 million and the correct number would be 0.693 million. This paper considers the number as 6.93 lakh or 0.693 million.

(4) MSOs? have a number of subsidiaries and alliances, hence broadband numbers are split as applicable. The consolidated subscription numbers of these entities could be larger. Hathway is a case in point.

In Mar-16, the largest ever number of wired broadband subscribers have been added ? in absolute numbers as well as in month-over-month (m-o-m) percentage terms.  2.3 lakh wired broadband subscribers were added, with m-o-m growth of 1.37 percent in Mar-16. The combined subscription numbers of the top 5 wired broadband players also had the largest ever subscriber additions in terms of absolute numbers at 1 lakh and at 0.71 percent in terms of m-o-m growth. Please refer to Figure 1A below.

At the same time, the subscriber numbers share of the top five wired broadband players in the country has reduced from 88.45 percent from Dec-14 to 83.98 percent as on Mar-16. During the same period the all India wireline internet subscriber base has grown 10.48 per cent from 153.2 lakh to 169.8 lakh. The combined numbers of the top five players have increased by less than half of that in percentage terms - by 5.24 per cent from 136.3 lakh to 142.6 lakh. The top five players have added 7.1 lakh subscribers during these 15 months, with ACT and Bharti Airtel contributing to the major bulk of the growth.          

Other wireline broadband players in India

MSOs? in India have started providing internet services on the back of their television cable networks using DOCSIS technology. In general, they have started reporting double digit YoY increase in internet subscribers and revenue. The television cable players see broadband services improving their Average Revenue per User (ARPU) numbers. Three of the major MSOs and a regional MSO - Hathway, Siti Cable, Den Networks, Ortel Communications whose results are available in the public domain have been showing steady growth in their broadband segment over the past few quarters. All the four have been reporting growth in average revenue per user (ARPU).

Ortel president and CEO Bibhu Prasad Rath said, ?We are happy to launch a wide array of broadband plans in DOCSIS 2.0 and DOCSIS 3.0 technology platforms keeping in view the current pattern of internet usage by the subscribers. While we have very affordable plans to serve all internet subscribers, we have been continuously upgrading the speeds to cater to the fast changing usage trends of subscribers who have multiple requirements ranging from plain simple browsing, emailing, social media engagement, heavy downloading, video conferencing to the higher end usage of HD live streaming of video content and complex online gaming. Our endeavour is to constantly redefine our consumer experience and we will constantly pursue this objective in our markets to increase our broadband subscriber base.?

Ortel reported a net addition of 13,963 internet subscribers in FY-2016(year ended 31 March 2016, current year) compared to 4,092 subscribers in FY-2015; Total Broadband RGUs were 72,482. The company expects significant growth in broadband subscribers in FY-2017 on the back of new network rollout, a strong team, solid back-end operations, attractive broadband packages and various other value-added services and initiatives.

Earlier this month, Ortel introduced a wide range of plans including 100 Mbps mega speed DOCSIS 3.0 broadband internet in the state of Odisha. The new Ortel Broadband plans range from 2 Mbps to 100 Mbps which will cater to the requirements of most of the home broadband users ranging from simple browsing, chatting to using High Definition video content and high level Online Gaming.

Siti Cable has reported broadband customer base growth to approximately 1.32 lakh by Q4-16 (quarter ended 31 March 2016, current quarter), up 120 percent year-on-year. Results from Hathway and Den Networks for FY-16 and Q4-16 have yet to be published in the public domain.

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