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Hathway leads the way in wireline net subs addition in Q3

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BENGALURU: Over the past few years, multi-system operators, or MSOs, and cable television operators have been trying to enhance revenue by offering broadband internet services riding piggyback on their cable TV network wires. The second largest—considering that Atria Convergence Technologies is also an MSO and has far more broadband subscribers— cable television-wired broadband internet services provider, Hathway Cable & Datacom Services Ltd (Hathway) added more subscribers than any other wired internet service provider between October 2017 and December 2017. Going by data provided by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Hathway added 60,000 subscribers in the third quarter of fiscal 2018 (FY 2018) or the last quarter of calendar year 2017 (CY-2107). The TRAI report indicated that Hathway added 40,000 subscribers in Dec-17, the highest by any of top five wireline broadband internet services providers in the country. Since Sep-17 Hathway is the fifth largest wired broadband internet services provider in India.

In its investor presentation, the now pure broadband internet services provider, Hathway, says that it added net 50,000 wireline broadband internet subscribers in Q3 2018. In the same investor presentation, Hathway claims that it has added 1.5 lakh broadband internet subscribers in CY-17–its subscriber base grew from 6 lakh at the end of December 2016 to 7.5 lakh as on 31 December 2018. TRAI data pegs Hathway’s subscriber base at 7.3 lakh as on the same date.

It may be noted that both ACT and Hathway started off as MSOs, but now their core business focus is on wireline broadband internet services. In the case of Hathway, after restructuring, it is now a pure wired broad internet services provider, with its cable TV operations now under Hathway Digital Pvt Ltd. While ACT has continued to service its existing cable TV subscribers in the limited territory that it operates – South India mostly – its wireline broadband internet subscriber base has grown quite remarkably notwithstanding its geographical limitations. ACT added 1.6 lakh wireline broadband internet subscribers in CY-17 and 40,000 in Q3 2018. In Dec-17, ACT added 10,000 wireline broadband internet subscribers. ACT is the third largest wired broadband internet service providers in terms of number of subscribers in India with a subscriber base of 12.8 lakh. ACT is probably the largest private wireline broadband internet services provider in South India.

TRAI provides data in units of million up to 2 fractions and hence the subscription numbers mentioned in this report are accurate to the nearest 10,000.

The largest wireline broadband internet services provider in the country – the public sector Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) lost 5.7 lakh wireline broadband internet subscribers in CY-17 and 1.6 lakh in Q3-2018. In Dec-17, the public sector internet and telephony services provider bled 50,000 subscribers. It closed CY-17 or Dec-17 with a wired broadband internet subscriber base of 93.8 lakh.

Indian telephone major Bharti Airtel Limited (Airtel) is the second largest wired broadband internet services provider in India – it closed Dec-17 with 21.5 lakh subscribers. Airtel added 1.1 lakh wired broadband internet subscribers in CY-17, 30,000 in Q3-2018 and 10,000 in Dec-17.

The public sector Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited (MTNL) was once the third largest wired broadband internet services providers in the country, until it was replaced by ACT. MTNL lost 1.3 lakh wired broadband internet subscribers in CY-17, lost 40,000 subscribers in Q3 2018 and lost 10,000 subscribers in Dec-17. The company closed CY-17 with a wired broadband internet subscriber base of 9.1 lakh.

Overall, the wireline broadband subscriber base in India declined by 2.8 lakh in CY-17, by 1.8 lakh in Q3 2018, but increased by 10,000 in Dec-17. The share of subscribers of the top five wired broadband internet service providers fell from 81.31 per cent as at the end of Dec-16 to 80.91 per cent at the end of Dec-17.

The combined total number of subscribers of the top five broadband internet services in the country reduced by 3 lakh in CY-2017, reduced by 70,000 in Q3-2018 and remained the same in Dec-17 as in Nov-17 (144.5 lakh). It is quite obvious that the largest subscriber losses were by the public sector BSNL and MTNL. However, some MSOs such as Siti Networks Limited and regional player Ortel Communications had reported wireline broadband internet subscriber declines during CY-2017.

Top 5 wireless broadband internet service providers

As on 31 December 2017, the top five wireless broadband service providers were Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (16.009 crore) followed by Bharti Airtel (6.894 crore), Vodafone (5.243 crore), Idea Cellular (3.480 crore) and BSNL (1.257 crore).

Overall broadband internet subscription

A majority of the 36.287 crore internet subscribers in India subscribe to wireless internet services through mobile phones and dongles – the number grew from 33.24 crore in Nov-17 to 34.457 crore in Dec-17. Fixed wireless subscribers -  (Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, Point-to-Point Radio & VSAT) declined to 4.4 lakh in Dec-17 from 4.5 lakh in Nov-17. As mentioned above, wired broadband internet subscribers grew by 10,000 from 178.5 lakh in Nov-17 to 178.6 lakh in Dec-17.

The top five service providers constituted 93.80 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of Dec-17. These service providers were Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd (16.009 crore), Bharti Airtel (7.109 crore), Vodafone (5.244 crore), Idea Cellular (3.481 crore) and BSNL (2.195 crore).

Other broadband internet service providers

As also mentioned above, MSOs and LCOs or cable video service providers also provide wired broadband internet services in the country. These cable service providers have a number of subsidiaries and alliances, hence, broadband numbers are split as applicable. The consolidated subscription numbers of these entities could be larger than the numbers of some of the wired internet services providers mentioned above.

Also Read :

Nov 2017: Wireline internet bleeds subscribers

Jio continues leading broadband subs addition while wireline internet loses subs in Oct

RIL's Rs 2.35 lakh crore investments in Jio start to payoff

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