It’s no surprise in the current circumstances that home broadband and WiFi are enjoying a surge in the Indian market. But can providers keep up?
Providers like Bharti Airtel, Excitel and Spectra are reporting a spike in demand for data – and wireline broadband plans – from the growing number of people now working at home. New wireline broadband connections are also on the menu for many home workers who need reliable connections for things like videoconferencing.
This may be good news in particular for operator Reliance Jio and cash-strapped rivals Airtel and Vodafone Idea, whose broadband businesses and VPN services could be boosted by a move to home working.
Meanwhile, according to some reports demand for WiFi equipment has more than doubled in the last two weeks – and suppliers are unable to keep up. Even device rental has been affected and, while price hikes are denied by the main players, independent retail may not be so coy about making money; some retailers are said to be renting out dongles.
News media in the country indicate that India has 19 million fixed line broadband users – including enterprises and offices and 17 million home fixed line broadband users.
The only problem, of course, is that India needs more fibre – even without the present health crisis. Most people in the country rely on wireless. The figures for fibre are dwarfed by the estimated 640 million mobile broadband users accessing it through a variety of devices. This too could benefit the big three operators – a modest cause for optimism after Wednesday’s Supreme Court judgement, perhaps.