Wi-Fi calling: Work for home clicks with fixed broadband sector, says Crisil

By: |
April 28, 2020 12:15 AM

Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) said this was a good opportunity for the sector. The association also raised its long-standing demand of allowing active infrastructure sharing to include internet service provider (ISP) players, which is available to all other licences.

Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) said this was a good opportunity for the sector.

With lockdown forcing a majority of Indians to continue working from home, Wi-Fi connection or wired broadband is finding more takers. Wired broadband subscribers in India are around 18-19 million — dismal compared to the developed nations. For instance, fixed broadband adoption in India is among the lowest globally, at 6%, compared to Japan (80%), US (75%), Eurozone (70%) and China (55%).

A Crisil report said the lockdown had come as a, “Godsend to the fixed broadband sector, which has been stagnating with subscribers at 18-19 million since 2016 because of the intense price war in the mobile telephony space”. Although 4G offers lower speed than fixed broadband, it served the purpose all this while, especially with increasing affordability of smartphones.

“But now, subscriptions to fixed broadband, especially in urban areas, have surged because millions are working from home. Consequently, data usage has darted up 25-30% since the lockdown began on March 25, 2020. This spike in consumption, however, has led to slower data speeds,” the ratings agency noted.

Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) said this was a good opportunity for the sector. The association also raised its long-standing demand of allowing active infrastructure sharing to include internet service provider (ISP) players, which is available to all other licences. This would help bring down costs and would lead to more efficient and cheaper internet services.

“Fixed broadband has a great opportunity to expand in India as they provide steady link and speed. Covid-19 has forced people to work from home and this has become the new normal. Also with too much pressure on wireless networks, professionals working from home have to use WiFi for consistency of speed and internet,” ISPAI president Rajesh Chharia said.

Also fixed-line broadband providers can offer direct links to subscribers so that their office work does not get stalled due to low speed or steady link problems as is happening on wireless networks, due to heavy burden during such times. Besides, fixed-line broadband will also bring down the load on wireless networks, Chharia added.

“In the medium term, we expect mobile tariffs to be hiked. That will help sustain some of the uptick in fixed broadband usage because its price differential with mobile data will reduce,” Crisil projected.

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