BENGALURU: In a change from the norm, the public sector telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) added 40,000 wireline broadband internet subscribers in the month of September 2016 (Sep-16). Continuing the new trend, the pub sector player added another 60,000 subscribers in the month of October 2016 (Oct-16).
Earlier, BSNL had been consistently losing subscribers in the calendar year 2016 (CY-16) until 31 August 2016 (Aug-16). Its gain in Sep-16 was just half the 80,000 subscribers it has lost in CY-16 until Sep-16.With the Oct-16 growth in subscribers, BSNL has shown growth by 20,000 in subscribers for calendar year CY-16 until 31 October 2016.
Reliance JioInfocom Limited with 35.94 million (3.594 crore) joined the top 5 broadband services subscribers list in Oct-16.
At the same time, the other public sector telecom operator - Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited (MTNL) has also been bleeding wireline broadband internet subscribers in CY-16 until Oct-16. MTNL has seen a reduction of 60,000 subscribers in CY-16.Overall, the two public sector players have lost subscribers during CY-16 until Oct-16 and hence dampened the subscriber growth rate among the top five wired broadband internet players.
The wireline broadband internet (broadband) subscriber base in the country grew by 9.09 percent (by 15 lakh or 1.5 million) in the period between 31 December 2015 (Dec-15) or1 January 2016 until 31 October 2016 (Oct-16), from 165.1 lakh to 180.1 lakh. Telecom subscription data released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for Oct-16 reveals that the contribution by the top five players’ was just 5.8 lakh new subscribers or 16.77 percent growth in the current calendar year until Oct-16 (CY-16).
Overall, wired broadband subscribers grew 0.95 percent month-on-month (MoM) in Oct-16. The All India wired broadband base grew from 178.4 lakh to 180.1 lakh, while the five top players grew by 0.55 percent in Oct-16 as compared to 0.69 percent in Sep-16.
Leading the growth in subscriber additions in CY-16 until Oct-16 are private wired broadband players Bharti Airtel (Airtel, 10,000 additions in Oct-16) and regional player Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt Ltd (ACT, 10,000 additions in Oct-16) with additions of 2.8 lakh and 2.6 lakh subscriber additions respectively in CY-16 until Oct-16. Airtel’s wired broadband subscriber base grew 16.77 percent, while ACT’s base grew by 30.23 percent during the same period (CY-16 until Oct-16). In CY-15 (1 January 2015 to 31 December 2015), Airtel had added 2.6 lakh wired broadband subscribers and grown by 18.44 percent, while ACT added 2.5 lakh subscribers and had grown at a blazing 40.98 percent. By Sep-16, Airtel had already exceeded the number of subscribers it had added in CY-15, while ACT has equalled its CY-15 performance.Hence, by the end of 2016, with reports for two more months to be published as yet, the two players should add a lot more subscribers than they did in CY-15.
While Airtel is a national level player, ACT is a regional player with operations in South India, hence probably making ACT the largest private wireline broadband player in South India. ACT has replaced the public sector MTNL at third place, pushing the latter to fourth spot in Aug-16 in terms of number of subscribers.Another private player among the top five – You Broadband (You BB) has added 80,000 subscribers (15.69 percent growth) in the current year until Oct-16.
Among the 5 top wireline broadband internet players in India, the public sector telecom player Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) leads by far with 99.4 lakh total number of wireline broadband subscribers as on Oct-16. However, as mentioned above, BSNL had seen its broadband subscriber base shrink by 80,000 in CY-16 until Aug-16. The largest private sector wireline broadband internet services player Airtel had 19.5 lakh subscribers as on 31 October 2016, ACT with 11.2 lakh subscribers was next and was followed by the other public sector player –MTNL with 10.6 lakh subscribers. You Broadband (You BB) with 5.9 lakh subscribers was the fifth.
Please refer to Fig 1 below for wireline subscriber data in CY-16 until Oct-16.
The top five players have had a slower rate of growth as compared to the all India growth in CY-16 until Oct-16. The share of the top five players among all India wired broadband subscriber addition has fallen in CY-16 until Oct-16 from 85.28 percent as on 1 January 2016 to 81.40 percent as on 31 October 2016. The share of these players was 88.45 percent as on 1 January 2015.
Month-on-month (m-o-m), the all India wired broadband subscriber base witnessed the second highest growth in CY-16 until Sep-16 in Aug-16 at 1.03 percent, while the top 5 players had a growth of 0.28 percent in that month. Please refer to figure 2 below:
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 and triple digit year-over-year (y-o-y) 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 Networks Limited, Den Networks Limited , Ortel Communications Limited respectively whose results are available in the public domain have been showing steady growth in their broadband segment over the past few quarters.
Overall broadband subscriber numbers for October 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) grew by a massive 13.59 percent or 26.12 million (2.612 crore) to 218.42 crore (21.842 crore) from 192.30 million (19.23 crore).
The growth was led by wireless broadband subscriber numbers that use mobiles and dongles for internet access have increased m-o-m by14.97 percent by 26.03million or 260.3 lakh to 199.90 million (19.99 crore) in Oct-16 from 178.4 million (17.84 crore) in Sep-16.Fixed wireless subscribers that access the internet through Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, Point-to-point radio and VSAT remained steady in Sep-16 and Oct-16 at 0.60 million (6 lakh).
The top five service providers constituted 80.36 percent market share of the totalbroadband subscribers at the end of Oct-16. These service providerswere Bharti Airtel (48.17 million or 4.817 crore), Vodafone (40.19 million or 4.019 crore), Reliance JioInfocom Limited with 35.94 million (3.594 crore),Idea Cellular which saw a decline in subscribers from30.72 million(3.072 crore) in Sep-16 to 29.76 million (2.976 crore) and, BSNL which also saw in a slight subscriber base decline from (21.60 million 2.16 crore) to 21.46 million or 2.146 crore. Reliance Communications Group which had (16.74 million 1.674 crore) in Sep-16 exited the top five list.
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 0.51 million (5.1 lakh) subscribers for You BB for Dec-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) 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.