2018 has been one of the lowest growth years for broadband subscribers in India, according to research firm techArc, which is basing this on TRAI data. The firm looked at broadband data in terms of wireless broadband and fixed broadband connectivity.
While TRAI’s numbers showed there was a 44.7 per cent increase in the number of broadband subscribers when compared to 2017. Still it was the lowest growth since the year 2014 for the overall broadband subscriber base.
TRAI’s numbers show that overall broadband subscriber base has gone up by 43.7 per cent accounting for 525 million Indian broadband users. Out of these 525 million broadband users, over 500 million use wireless broadband, and around 17.6 million are on fixed broadband.
According to techARC, the maximum addition in broadband subscribers was seen back in 2016, with the launch of the Jio network. The growth rate peaked by 73 per cent in 2016, which then fell to 54 per cent in 2017.
“This decline is evident as it is getting difficult to add the new broadband subscribers at the entry segments of users. It would be a herculean task to get next 500 million on board taking the Indian broadband subscribers to cross 1 billion mark,” Faisal Kawoosa, Founder techARC said in a press statement.
Worryingly though, techArc says that fixed broadband numbers continue to struggle, which will stand at 17.6 million by end of 2018, which is actually a decline. This is taking place despite fixed broadband speeds improving in India, according to recent data shared by Ookla.
While 2018, saw a lot of interest in broadband networks when Reliance Industries launched Jio GigaFiber network, the network has been rolling out very slowly and not proved to be the disruptor like the Jio 4G network was when it launched.
Many people are waiting for Jio GigaFiber to be made available in their localities, given that the company still has to take permission from the Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) in many cases. Further the slow growth of broadband in India can be blamed on the off-track performance of flagship projects like BharatNet, all of which have been failing their timelines, says techArc.
The research firm notes that given that 97% of the broadband users are coming from wireless technologies like 4G, the ecosystem will need sustainable and scalable measures for India to get to the 1 billion broadband subscriber base.
To increase the rate of broadband adoption, techArc notes that both the companies and government will need to focus on getting affordable hardware to access the internet, which stopped after the entry of JioPhone.