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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) lead in net wired broadband subscriber additions in calendar year 2016 with 50,000 subscribers added during the first two months of calendar year 2016 (CY-2016). As per data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), ACT’s broadband subscriber base as on 29 February 2016 (Feb-16) was 9.1 lakh as compared to the 8.6 lakh subscribers as on 31 December 2015 (Dec-15).

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-2015 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 have been losing subscribers and/or market share, the three private players have been growing on both these parameters as Fig 1 below indicates. In CY-2016, until Feb-16, both BSNL and MTNL have lost 10,000 wired broadband subscribers each, while You BB has added 10,000 subscribers. BSNL’s wired broadband subscriber base as on 29 February 2016 was 99.1 lakh, while MTNL had 11.1 lakh subscribers. You BB had 5.2 lakh subscribers for Feb-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.

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 84.54 percent as on Feb-16. During the same period the all India wireline internet subscriber base has grown 9.33 per cent from 153.2 lakh to 167.5 lakh. The combined numbers of the top five players have increased by less than half of that in percentage terms - by 4.5 per cent from 136.3 lakh to 141.6 lakh. The top five players have added 5.3 lakh subscribers during these 14 months, with ACT and Bharti Airtel contributing to the major bulk of the growth. Please refer to Fig 2 below.

MSOs’ in India have started providing internet services on the back of their cable networks using Docsis technology. In general, they have started reporting double digit YoY increase in internet subscribers and revenue.  Three of the major MSOs and a regional MSO - Hathway, Siti Cable, Den Networks, Ortel Communications whose results are available in the public domain for the quarter ended 31 December 2016 (Q3-2016 current quarter) have been showing steady growth in their broadband segment over the past few quarters. 

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