State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) which was once the leader in the home broadband and wireline segments has now been struggling to retain its market share as both Jio and Airtel are aggressively expanding their footprints.
Apart from the competition from private players, the reason for fall in market share for BSNL in the fixed home broadband space is its weak investment and poor quality services, according to experts.
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Expressing concern on the falling market share, BSNL CMD PK Purwar in a meeting with circle heads last month, asked them to find out the reasons behind growing number of disconnections in the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) segment.
In the FTTH segment, the company currently has 3.54 million subscribers as of February end, compared to Jio and Airtel at 8.02 million and 5.98 million, respectively. BSNL lost its top position in the segment to Jio in November 2021, just within two years of commercial launch of JioFiber.
In December 2019, Jio had just 0.8 million wired broadband connections, whereas BSNL had 8.39 million subscribers and Airtel had 2.42 million subscribers. Back to February 2023, Jio is the market leader, Airtel is strongly expanding with its share with its last mile partner base, and BSNL is struggling to maintain its market share.
Similarly, in the wireline segment under which internet services are provided with a landline connection, BSNL’s subscriber base was at 7.06 million as of February end. For Jio and Airtel, the wireline subscriber base was at 8.8 million and 7 million, respectively. Analysts believe that Airtel in a month or two, would surpass BSNL to become the second largest player in the wireline segment.
“High rate of disconnections in FTTH is matter of serious concern and it is alarming for the Circles where disconnection rate is more than 30%,” according to a document containing excerpts of the meeting between BSNL CMD and head of circles.
In the meeting, the circle heads were asked to ensure that the network uptime must be more than 99% and it is non-negotiable key performance indicator (KPI). Further, the circle heads need to organise open house with telecom infrastructure partners to take stock of the network performance, explore, and remove the root causes behind any issues with the services.
With regard to solving customer complaints as well, the company has directed the circle heads to take quick and strong decisions.
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“Target of rural fault clearance is six hours and for Urban fault clearance is four hours irrespective of any type of fault. 75% faults should be attended in these timelines,” officials aware the development said.
BSNL is targeting to connect 40 million households with fiber broadband in the next four years.
Currently, seven circles that are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan, are performing well for BSNL with regard to FTTH connections.
While Kerala is the highest overall revenue generating circle for BSNL, in the financial year ended March 2023, the circle was amongst the nine non-performing circles with a fall in revenue, officials said.
In February, India’s total Fixed broadband subscribers base declined by 0.29 million to 32.8 million, compared to January. BSNL lost 0.64 million subscribers, Jio added 0.18 million, and Bharti Airtel added 0.13 million subscribers.
“We expect further acceleration in India’s FBB (fixed broadband) subscribers, with the launch of JioFiber Back-up (at Rs198/month) in March,” brokerage house Kotak Institutional Equities said.