Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio set for home broadband war

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Consumers of home broadband services can look forward to a bonanza of sorts in coming months with Bharti AirtelNSE 1.06 % ready to engage in another price war once Reliance JioInfocomm launches its much awaited fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services later this year.

After unleashing brutal price wars in the mobile services space with its disruptive tariffs following its entry in September 2016, the Mukesh Ambani-controlled 4G carrier is now poised to stir a hornet’s nest; this time in the home broadband services front by offering an attractive combo of fast broadband connectivity at initial data speeds of 100 Mbps (with huge dollops of free data thrown in), videos and unlimited voice calls through the Vo-IP (voice over internet protocol) route for around Rs 1,000-1,500 a month.

But many expect Jio — which is already running a pilot in many cities — to offer its bouquet for free initially to attract customers, mirroring its strategy in the mobile phone space.

A person familiar with the developments hinted that the timing of the commercial launch of Jio’s home broadband services may be revealed at parent Reliance Industries’ upcoming annual general meeting on July 5.

Airtel is also working to put together a winning brew of offers at attractive rates to hold on to their 2.5 million-strong home broadband customer base. The company has recently offered discounts of 15% and 20% to customers opting for its home broadband packs (offering up to 300 Mbps speeds) for six months and 1 year, respectively.

Airtel has already felt the effects of pre-empting Jio’s launch, being forced to cut rates for some of its plans and increase data allowances.

This has led to its home services revenue shrinking nearly 11% on-year to Rs 604.2 crore in the quarter ended March, triggered by 12.6% on-year ARPU dilution. Airtel attributed the fall to “the proliferation of mobile broadband at below-cost rates”.

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