Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the state-run telecom operator, needs to go aggressive with its fiber broadband business. Airtel replaced BSNL as the second-largest wired broadband operator in December 2021. In November, it was Jio who took BSNL’s first position.
So, in a span of two months, BSNL fell down from the first position to the third position. The state-run telco had long enjoyed the attention in the wired broadband segment when the private telcos were majorly focusing on the wireless services market.
But now, both Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are claiming the market and subscribers BSNL had accumulated over the years.
BSNL Can’t Invest in Fiber Infra as Fast as Jio, Airtel
BSNL doesn’t have the money or other means to invest in its fiber infrastructure the way Jio and Airtel can, said an industry expert. It is worth noting that BSNL actually offers a cheaper entry-level broadband plan than Airtel, but the telco is unable to compete regardless of that.
Airtel and Jio have the money to invest and reach out to more cities and rural areas of the country faster than what BSNL could manage. Further, the brand position both the private telcos have is much better compared to BSNL’s.
BSNL is not an unknown name in the wired-broadband space. Some people consider the company’s services better than what the private telcos offer. BSNL’s high-end broadband plans also offer Disney+ Hotstar Premium subscription benefits which none of the other internet service providers (ISPs) does.
Note that there is even Vodafone Idea (Vi) in this space operating with the brand called ‘You Broadband’. But You Broadband is only available in limited cities, and it doesn’t look like Vodafone Idea can expand its services by making huge and fresh investments in other cities.
The fiber or fixed-line broadband market is going to heat up further in competition as many local and regional ISPs are also coming up with attractive offers for the customers for the same or lower price than what they can get from Jio, Airtel, and BSNL.
At such a stage, the state-run telco needs to ensure that its offerings are not only at par with Airtel or Jio, but it is also reaching out to new towns and cities with its fiber broadband services and making an impact through advertising. It will be interesting to see how fast the private ISPs eat up BSNL’s wireline subscriber market share or whether the state-run telco will make a few moves of its own to win the lost ground back.