May-16: ACT leads wireline broadband subscriber additions

BENGALURU:Atria Convergence Technologies Private Limited (ACT, ACT Broadband) continued to lead wireline broadband internet (wireline broadband) subscribers in calendar year 2016 with 1.3 lakh subscribers added since 1 January 2016 until 31 May 2016. As per TRAI data, ACT had 8.6 lakh subscribers as on 31 December 2015 (Dec-15, or 1 January 2016), and it closed with 9.9 lakh subscribers on 31 May 2016 (May-16). At the time of writing this paper, ACT’s subscriber base should have crossed the 10 lakh (1 million) mark.

As per The Telecom regulatory Authority of India (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 as national players at present. BSNL, Airtel and MTNL also provide wireline telephony voice and data 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.

ACT was followed by Bharati Airtel Limited (Airtel) which added 1.2 lakh subscribers in calendar year 2016 until May-16. Airtel had 16.7 lakh wireline broadband subscribers on 1 January 2016. In May-16, it had 17.9 lakh subscribers. Among the top 5 wireline broadband players in India, You Broadband (You BB) was next with 40 thousand subscriber adds during the same period. The other two players among the top five wireline broadband internet subscribers in the country – the public sector telecom companies –reported decline in subscribers between the same period.

You BB began the year with 5.1 lakh subscribers and as on 31 May 2016 it had 5.5 lakh subscribers. BSNL, the largest wireline broadband player in the country, opened 2016 with 99.2 lakh subscribers, lost 30,000 subscribers until 31 May 2016. MTNL lost 20,000 wireline broadband subscribers and had a tally of 11 lakh subscribers until 31 May 2016.

Please refer to figure 1 below for wireline broadband subscriber data of the top five players:


Overall, the top 5 wired broadband players have added 2.4 lakh subscribers (36.92 percent of total wireline broadband subscriber additions) between 1 January 2016 and 31May 2016 as opposed to the overall growth of 6.5 lakh subscribers in the country during the same period. Please refer to Fig 2 below:

In Mar-16, the largest ever number of wired broadband subscribers were 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 in Mar-16.

Thesubscriber numbers share of the top five wired broadband players in the country has reduced from 87.62 percent in Mar-15 to 83.45 percent as on May-16. During the same period the all India wireline internet subscriber base has grown 10.57 percent from 155.2 lakh to 171.6 lakh. The combined numbers of the top five players have increased by less than half of that in percentage terms - by 4.99 per cent from 136.4 lakh to 143.2 lakh. The top five players have added 6.8lakh subscribers during these 15 months, with ACT and Bharti Airtel contributing a major chunk to 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 respectively 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).

Overall broadband subscriber numbers for May 2016 including wireless and mobile

Overall, as per the reports received by TRAI from the service providers, the number ofbroadband subscribers (including wireless, mobile, dongles) increased from 151.09 million (15.109 crore)  at the end of Apr-16 to 159.76 million (15.976 crore) at the end of May-16 with a monthly growth rate of 0.89 percent. The top five service providers constituted 84.32 percent market share of the totalbroadband subscribers at the end of May-16. These service providers were Airtel (40.80 million or 4.08 crore), Vodafone (31.55 million or 3.155 crore), Idea Cellular (25.70 million or 2.57 crore), BSNL (20.76 million 2.076 crore) and Reliance Communications Group (15.91 million or 1.591 crore).TRAI’s definition of broadband is internet download speeds greater than or equal to 512 Kpbs.

Notes:(1) The unit of currency in this report is the Indian rupee - Rs (also conventionally represented by INR).The Indian numbering system or the Vedic numbering system has been used to denote money values. The basic conversion to the international norm would be:

(a) 100,00,000 = 100 lakh = 10,000,000 = 10 million = 1 crore.

(b) 10,000 lakh = 100 crore = 1 arab = 1 billion.

(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.


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