Reliance Jio announced on Monday that it would launch a “backup broadband” plan for homes with shaky WiFi connections. The plans start from ₹198 a month (without GST), with an option for daily top-ups or a monthly flat fee to increase the speed from the basic 10Mbps bandwidth. The move comes as Jio gears up for the Indian Premier League; the firm has the rights to stream the cricket tournament in India.
While the plans come with a mandatory installation fee of ₹500 plus GST, the monthly rental is an aggressive move that may unsettle established operators; fixed-line broadband prices have been reducing across the industry since Jio’s mobile network launched, as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) scramble to manage tightening economics.
While the plans appear to have even tighter margins than is usual for the industry, they’re consistent with the firm’s rapid expansion in the home broadband space, and its pledge last year to distribute the IPL to as many households as possible, even though the telecast rights are held by Disney Star, and smartphone and broadband growth (including 4G and 5G connections) have stalled in recent months.
The firm is pushing the backup broadband plans as an add-on to existing providers, instead of replacing established ISPs’ connections altogether. The company confirmed to The Hinduthat the backup plan can be upgraded by users to a full-fledged connection, potentially giving the provider a shot to upsell to customers.
Jio added 2.92 lakh home connections in December 2022, the latest month for which the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has released subscription data. This is almost double what Bharti Airtel added in the same period. India has 27.45 million home broadband connections, 30.6% of which are Jio subscriptions, making it the single largest wired broadband provider in the country, right behind BSNL and Airtel, who control a quarter of the market each.