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Jio becomes top ISP, Wireline growth retards overall broadband internet subs fall in Nov-16

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BENGALURU: MukeshAmbani’s Reliance JioInfocomm Limited (Jio) replaced Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel Limited (Airtel) as the largest internet services provider in the country. All the other players in the top 5 wireless internet subscriber list based on subscribers lost subscribers to the Jio juggernaut.

However, India witnessed a 0.07 percent fall in broadband internet subscriber base during the month ended 30 November 2016 (Nov-16) to 21.826 crore as compared to 21.842 crore in Oct-16(month ended 31 October 2016).Wireless internet subscribers that access the internet through mobile devices (phones and dongles) declined in Nov-16 to 19.961 crore from 19.90 crore in Oct-16.

Four of the top five wireline broadband internet service providers in India contributed 1.2 lakh (92.31 percent) subscribers of the 1.3 lakh wireline subscribers added across India during Nov-16 and hence retarded the fall in internet subscribers to some extent. As per data submitted to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) the total wireline broadband subscriber base grew 0.69 percent to 180.6 lakh in Nov-16 from 179.3 lakh in Oct-16). The fifth player (fourth in the pecking order in terms of number of wireline broadband internet subscribers), the public sector Mahanagar Telecom Nigalm Limited (MTNL) saw its subscriber base erode by 10,000 to 10.5 lakh in Nov-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 99.5 lakh total number of wireline broadband subscribers as on Nov-16. However BSNL had seen its broadband subscriber base shrink by 80,000 in CY-16 until Aug-16. Since Sep-16, BSNL has added 110,000 subscribers. The largest private sector wireline broadband internet services player Airtel had 20.3 lakh subscribers as on 30 November 2016, ACT with 11.4 lakh subscribers was next and was followed by the other public sector player - MTNL with 10.5 lakh subscribers.  You Broadband (You BB) with 6 lakh subscribers was the fifth. Overall, wired broadband subscribers in India in Nov-16 grew 0.73 percent month-on-month (MoM), while the five top players grew by 0.75 percent.

Leading the growth in subscriber additions in CY-16 until Nov-16 are private wired broadband players Bharti Airtel (Airtel, 80,000 additions in Nov-16) and regional player Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt Ltd (ACT, 20,000 additions in Nov-16) with additions of 3.6 lakh and 2.8 lakh subscriber additions respectively in CY-16. Airtel’s wired broadband subscriber base grew 21.56 percent, while ACT’s base grew by 32.56 percent during the same period (CY-16 until Nov-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 had 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 crossed its CY-15 performance in Oct-16. Hence, by the end of 2016, with reports for Dec-16 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 internet services 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 90,000 subscribers (17.65 percent growth) in the current year until Nov-16. 

Please refer to Fig 1 below:

The top five players have had a slower rate of growth as compared to the all India growth in CY-16 until Nov-16. The share of the top five players among all India wired broadband subscriber additions has fallen in CY-16 until Nov-16 from 85.28 percent as on 1 January 2016 to 81.78 percent as on 30 November 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. 

It is interesting to note that in percentage terms, while the All India m-o-m wireline broadband internet subscriber growth rate shows a decline the top five players show an increasing growth rate trend as indicated by the broken brown and red lines in the figure below. It may be noted further that the percentage numbers below are indicative and based on numbers rounded off to nearest 10,000, hence may differ from the number mentioned above (0.69 percent growth as opposed to 0.73 percent growth in the graph below for Nov-16).



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 respectivelywhose results are available in the public domain have been showing steady growth in their broadband segment over the past few quarters. 

However, as per the data for Oct-16 and Nov-16, the contribution by other wireline broadband ISPs’ is small, just 10,000 subscribers per month were added by all the other players during these months.

Overall broadband subscriber numbers for November 2016 including wireless and mobile

The top five service providers constituted 82.39 percent market share of the totalbroadband subscribers at the end of Nov-16. These service providerswere Reliance JioInfocom Limited with 52.23 million or 52.23 crore (35.94 million or 3.594 crore in Oct-16);Bharti Airtel (43.93 million or 4.393 crore in Nov-16, 48.17 million or 4.817 crore in Oct-16); Vodafone (34.88 million or 3.488 crore in Nov-16, 40.19 million or 4.019 crore in Oct-16);Idea Cellular which saw a decline in subscribers (for the second month in a row) from 29.76 million (2.976 crore)  to 28.40 million or 2,84 crore;and BSNL which also saw its subscriber base decline once again from 21.46 million or 2.146 crore to 20.39 million or 2.039 crore. Reliance Communications Group which had (16.74 million 1.674 crore) in Sep-16 had already exited the top five list in Oct-16

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.

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