The number of new broadband subscribers added per month on Jio Fiber — the wired connectivity service from Reliance Jio — has crossed the 1 lakh mark for the first time — a year after the company started giving connections commercially.
According to India’s monthly broadband addition numbers, the total number of high-speed internet users on Jio Fiber rose to 11.6 lakh by the end of July 2020 from 10.6 lakh as of the end of June 2020.
This not only makes Jio Fiber the fastest growing wired broadband network in India, but also sets yet another record in terms of the speed of roll-out. It had added 90,000 net new wired broadband subscribers in June.
Currently, no other player in India has the capability to add more than 50,000 new users per month.
ACT and Bharti Airtel are Jio’s closest competitors in this regard, but their performance has been erratic due to disruptions related to COVID-19.
ACT Fibernet had hit the 50,000 mark twice in the first seven months of 2020, but these were punctuated by a month in which it saw a decline of 20,000 due to the April lockdown.
Similarly, Airtel — the largest private sector wired broadband provider — had seen two months of decline in its net subscriber numbers due to the lockdown.
However, the lockdown has seemingly had zero impact on Jio, which added 30,000 new users in April, 70,000 in May and 90,000 in June (see chart above). Jio Fiber is expected to hit the 2 lakh subscriber/ month mark in another 10-12 months.
Besides the 1 lakh broadband users, Jio also added around 60,000 non-broadband wireline users, likely to be corporate and internal customers on its IP-based landline network — taking the total to 1.59 lakh.
BSNL continued its losing streak, letting go off another 1.54 lakh landline users in July, out of whom around 40,000 were also broadband users.
Hathway and Airtel both added 20,000 net new users in July, while ACT saw its additions slow down to just 10,000 — its slowest pace of subscriber growth in 2020.
These numbers do not reflect the impact of the sharp price cut announced by Jio Fiber at the end of August.
Jio slashed its broadband tariff by around 50% from Sep 1, with plans starting at just Rs 399 for unlimited usage. It is, therefore, likely that the number of new subscriber additions on Jio would have seen a sharp increase from September onwards. The move may also have further hurt growth trends at ACT and other rivals.
Jio Chairman Mukesh Ambani recently said he plans to make the Jio Fiber high-speed broadband service available to 50 million households in India, or about 20% of the country’s population.
To counter Jio’s aggressive strategy, Bharti Airtel has announced a plan to enroll local cable operators as its partners and supply fiber-backed high-speed internet through these agents.
The strategy is already being pursued by players such as BSNL and RailWire.