Broadband operators are working hard to ensure their subscribers not face any downtime during the lockdown period in India. In the country, we have a lot of Internet Service Providers (ISP). As the country entered into lockdown, almost all the software and even students are relying on either mobile data or wired internet connection to get their job done. Excitel Broadband is one of the major private internet service provider in India right now with its operations spread across five cities- Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Lucknow. The company has a wide range of broadband plans with speeds up to 300 Mbps. TelecomTalk got a chance to discuss with Vivek Raina, CEO & Co-founder, Excitel, regarding the changes which the company noticed during the lockdown period.
How Much of a Consumption Increase Has Excitel Seen During the Lockdown Period?
At Excitel, we have seen a 30% increase in demand for new connections and a 60% increase in per day data consumption since March 1st week till now. From an average 9-10GB per day consumption before the lockdown, today we see 17-18GB per day data consumption on our networks.
Has This Sort of an Increase Ever Recorded Before in Excitel's History?
In recent times, there has been exponential growth in home data usage patterns and the consumption is shifting heavily towards video and gaming, both of which require fat data pipes (FTTH). We realised that due to COVID-19 related lockdown home broadband has become an absolutely essential part of people's lives, it is perhaps the most important connection to the rest of the world in these circumstances.
Whether it is Work from home, communication with near and dear ones, or leisure, broadband connectivity forms the bedrock of our lives in these times. Not just for Excitel but we are sure other players are also recording a surge in data consumption as people are using data extensive video conferencing apps for official meetings and as people are at home use of streaming apps has also increased considerably. At Excitel, we have seen a 30% increase in demand for new connections and a 60% increase in per day data consumption since March 1st week till now.
Was Excitel Prepared for Such a Surge in Consumption? What Were the Steps Taken?
In essence, we are running a backbone capable of handling hundreds of gigabits, so the spike, in general, didn't bother us much. A popular cricket match could lead to an even higher spike in a matter of minutes, thus we were ready. We are currently delivering 600 Gigabits of data over a massive fibre network of 20,000 km, including our partners’ networks to close to 3 lakh households. In Delhi NCR, we will be the biggest non-telco with such an expanse of a network across the city. Our network can accommodate twice the load as it is. So we are ready for the increased demand.
TelecomTalk Has Seen Reports of Excitel Customers Facing Dips in Speed
There were few exceptional cases in the first days of quarantine: Our upstream capacity choking, which we fixed in two days straight. Facebook nodes going down, thus overloading upstream, this was fixed by Facebook in a matter of hours. Less than 50 out of 1200 partners with local connectivity bottlenecks were rectified in 6 to 7 days. Since weeks the network performance is business as usual at Excitel.
Has the Company Managed to Recover the Broadband Speeds?
Yes, after the first week of lockdown, our speeds being delivered to customers and uptime are back to regular levels.
Has Excitel able to identify what its consumers are browsing during the lockdown? Has the surge in consumption purely on streaming or has there been any increase elsewhere?
There has been an exponential growth in-home data consumption and is shifting heavily towards video and gaming, both of which require fat data pipes (FTTH). A large section of people are working from home and are using data extensive video and teleconferencing apps which results in more data consumption.
As of now our basic offering at Excitel is 100 Mbps. The major difference in our cases is all our plans are truly unlimited, there is no data limit in any of our plans. Consumers pay us the monthly charge and get unlimited data at the same speed throughout the month.
What Is the Biggest Takeaway for Excitel During This Period?
Amid lockdown, we figured out the necessity of data and how integral and important wireline home broadband has become in the lives of individuals. I think the importance and need is going to stay as more and more people will like to work from homes in post lockdown situations as well. Meanwhile, we have already launched a series of plans for both our fibre as well as reeltime subscribers to help them in their increased need of speed as well as data.. The one thing that annoys most Internet users is the FUP limits or the data usage caps set by ISPs. These FUP limits restrict internet speed after the said data is exhausted under your plan. So, at Excitel we are offering no data caps on all our plans. All our plans offer unlimited data with no hidden terms and conditions, you can enjoy the same speed throughout the month without worrying about your data consumption.
Where has the consumption rise commonly been seen? Is there any particular city or a town that registered a drastic increase?
Though the increase in consumption has been seen across all the cities that we operate in, for us the biggest jump has been seen in Delhi NCR simply because we have a massive user base here and the number of people working from home and students studying from home is substantial.
How Does India Compare to the Developed Countries in Terms of Broadband Consumption?
Compared to developed countries, wireline Broadband penetration in our country is miniscule, with just around 2 Crore connections in the entire country. We are just getting started as far as proliferation of wireline Broadband is concerned. Also, the data limits set by traditional wireline Broadband companies (a phenomena not seen anywhere in developed countries) discourages users to use the services freely.
When Is Excitel Planning to Start Offering New Connections?
We are already installing new broadband connections in all areas except those under full sealing.
Lot of broadband operators are betting on offering OTT subscriptions bundled. Is Excitel planning for any such tie-ups?
Yes, however that will be in the future. It will be a gradual progression as the need for such services arrives and demand for such services starts. Our main focus is to bring Fibre to the people home and that’s the most relevant part. Bringing fibre to the home of people living in Bharat in unorganised, not very high-end areas and that’s our game right now. Once you have this, your basic infrastructure is ready, then IGTV or IoT is just a matter of time. 4G is not working because the infrastructure was not ready for so many customers. So they are suffering. We want to build our infra by bringing fibre to the customer's home first.