Reliance Jio Infocomm has started activating commercial plans for its Jio Fiber customers. The minimum speed being offered is 100Mbps for prices starting at Rs 699 per month. Let’s compare how the service provider compares with some key competitors on the twin parameters of speed and coverage.
In a city like Bengaluru, this compares favorably with a similar 100Mbps plan being offered by Airtel for Rs 799 per month. ACT Fibernet offers a 100Mbps plan starting at Rs 1,059, but then it compensates better in terms of data usage with 450GB of monthly data. Both RJio and Airtel provide 150GB of monthly data for their comparable plans.
However, RJio’s 1Gbps plan is almost the same as the one offered by Airtel. Both the service providers are offering monthly rentals starting at Rs 3,999. However, ACT Fibernet is at a significant disadvantage here, with its 1Gbps plans starting at Rs 5,999 in Bengaluru. It does have a pricing edge in Chennai where it offers the plan starting at Rs 2,999. In other cities, where it has coverage, it does not have a Gbps plan to offer. Moreover, being a broadband-only player, it has no voice service to offer.
State-run operators BSNL and MTNL don’t even have 100Mbps plans to offer in the consumer segment, let alone a 1Gbps plan.
When it comes to coverage, BSNL and MTNL combined do have a pan-India coverage to offer. However, the long process of service provisioning and service-related issues make the service unattractive to customers. The last-mile linkages often use old technologies and are therefore prone to cable cuts and breakages, which leads to service disruptions.
Airtel covers most of the states in the country but its lack of presence in some states and union territories like Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and J&K has persisted. Even in cities like Bengaluru, its Gbps offering has been not been available in a large number of key locations. The absence has been conspicuous due to the fact that other providers such as ACT and Hathway have been present in these locations for long.
As the plans are not significantly disruptive (as was in the case of mobile services), the competitors can heave a sigh of relief in the short term. Given that the wireline broadband uptake is still dismally low when compared with the mobile broadband market, RJio has ample headroom for growth without triggering consolidation by starting a tariff war.
However, in the long term, they will need to make their offerings more ubiquitous, at least in the service areas where they already have a presence. They will also need to rationalize their pricing southward in order to stay competitive vis-à-vis RJio.