GTPL Hathway, a cable and broadband network provider focused on Western and Central India, said it has already crossed its full-year target for new broadband connections within the first six months of the year, and has therefore doubled its target for FY21.
At the beginning of this financial year, the company had guided towards adding 1.1 to 1.3 lakh new broadband connections during the year, but it has already crossed that number — thanks largely to a spike in demand for broadband services. Just in the three months from July to September, it added a whopping 80,000 new subscribers.
“This year, we are looking forward that we will be somewhere between 2.25 to 2.5 lakh [new users],” an official said at the company’s briefing on its second quarter results.
Company officials said demand for wired broadband has gone up as people have been forced to incorporate new trends such as e-learning, work from home, on-demand entertainment and digital payments.
While earlier, most households rarely showed interest in plans with speeds above 40 or 50 Mbps, said the company, many households are switching to plans of 100 Mbps as broadband use-cases improve.
Most of the company’s broadband users are in the urban and semi-urban areas of Gujarat, but, said MD Rajan Gupta, GTPL Hathway’s value-for-money packs will find takers in rural areas as well.
“The kind of value-for-money products that GTPL Hathway has, at 400 rupees to 600 rupees ARPU for 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps unlimited, even in a very small town, even in a rural area, there’s demand for that,” he said.
However, the biggest impediment to rural expansion has been the high cost of laying fiber to small village clusters. But that, said Gupta, will be resolved with the completion of Gujarat Fibre Grid Network — part of the nationwide BharatNet Project.
GTPL Hathway is one of the two project implementation agencies in charge of rolling out the multi-year project in the Saurashtra region.
“As soon as the cyber project is completed, it gives GTPL potential to launch FTTH (fiber to the home), FTTB (fiber to the building) in every gram panchayat area. That itself has huge potential. So that’s where the focus is going to be,” Gupta added.
On the other hand, said Gupta, the company cannot simply focus on expanding its geographical footprint alone, but also has to improve its service quality. He pointed out that GTPL Hathway has recently hired a new head of customer service and technical head towards this end.
“With work from home, customer has become more demanding. Tolerance level is very very low,” he said.
“The focus has to be on improving service levels on current home passes,” he pointed out, adding that the new head of customer service has been tasked with the job of taking the service to the same level as that of a telecom player.
“..the focus is on continuing what we’ve done till now, but raise service levels to telco grade and that itself will take care of the next few quarters [in terms of] growth momentum that we’ve built up,” he pointed out.