The wait for the nationwide launch of Reliance Jio’s wired broadband service, Gigafiber, continued to drag on, with the company today saying that it has reached the ‘final stages’ of its beta testing for the service.
The service has been available to test users in cities like Mumbai nearly three years now.
“Ongoing beta trials of JioGigaFiber services is in its final stages, and early signs have been very encouraging,” Jio said in its quarterly earnings update.
Jio Chairman Mukesh Ambani reiterated his 50 million (5 cr) household target, compared to about 2.3 million wired broadband subscribers that Bharti Airtel has today.
“Beta trials of JioGigaFiber services have been very successful and the entire bouquet of smart home solutions would soon be rolled out to a targeted 50 million households and beyond,” he said.
The launch is likely to bring major disruption to the fragmented broadband industry in the country.
The biggest wired broadband player in India is Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd or BSNL, which has managed to notch up a total of 10.6 million wired connections, including voice-only or land-phone users.
It is estimated that BSNL has around 6 million wired broadband subscribers, which gives it a share of about 30% out of the total wired broadband subscriber base of 18.5 million users in India.
Going by what happened in the wireless broadband market, the entry of Jio GigaFiber is likely to expand the wired market to several times its existing size, as indicated by Ambani’s medium-term target of 50 million.
4G POWERS ON
Meanwhile, Jio continued to power on with its wireless, 4G broadband business, adding a whopping 24.5 million subscribers during the three months from April to June.
Its main competitors, such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, are expected to have seen declining subscriber growth during the same period, after losing tens of millions of users in the preceding six months due to tariff increases.
Vodafone Idea, for example, has lost over 90 million (9 cr) subscribers since it hiked tariffs at the lower end around September of last year.
In May — the latest month for which data is available — Vodafone Idea lost 5.7 million subscribers, while Bharti Airtel lost 1.5 million.
It is believed that consumers are shifting en-masse on to Jio’s network from Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel after the latter two started charging a minimum of around Rs 40 per month even if their subscribers did not make a single outgoing call.
Jio, on the other hand, offers unlimited voice calling for 28 days under its 49-rupee plan.
“Growth in Jio mobility services has continued to surpass all expectations. In less than two years of commercial operations,” said Mukesh Ambani, commenting on the latest results.