Reliance Jio Infocomm has informed that it has received a positive response for its latest home broadband service GigaFiber from 900 odd cities after two weeks of registration. Even then Reliance Jio has also remarked that it is facing resistance in crucial last mile connectivity in select towns because of Local Cable Operators (LCOs). When LCOs were asked about this issue, the operators said that the problem erupted because of Reliance Jio’s direct strategies which pitched the idea of home broadband to the consumers via housing societies and resident welfare associations (RWAs). Further, the LCOs also showed fear about Reliance Jio’s aggressive pricing techniques which would lead to disruption in their industry, a similar scenario which has happened in the mobile service sector.
However, Reliance Jio official said to ET that they are willing to take all stakeholders along. Further, a senior Reliance Jio official told ET, “We are taking proactive steps to resolve any last-mile connectivity challenges to prioritise and ensure timely roll-outs in markets where consumer registrations have been strong.” The official further added that the telco has got “got enthusiastic consumer response from nearly 900 cities across the country” out of the entire 1,100 cities in which Reliance Jio plans to roll out its broadband service.
AK Rastogi, president of Delhi-based All India Aavishkar Dish Antenna Sangh, also said that Jio’s step of taking the last mile connectivity issue in its own hands “has caused confusion at the ground level, creating differences between the company and the cable operators”. President of Maharashtra Cable Operators’ Federation, Arvind Prabhu also supported this opinion.
Experts are saying that last mile connectivity is crucial for Reliance Jio since this service, unlike mobile connectivity, will be dependent on third parties if the company wants to expand its FTTH service to the customers in its entirety. On this issue, Rajiv Sharma, HSBC director & telecom analyst, said, “FTTH, when done greenfield, is slow, and last mile deployments are tricky, and there is always a chance that take-up is slower than estimated. Which is why Jio’s target of 50 million TV homes, implying an annual run rate of 7-8 million homes per year may not be easy to achieve organically.”
However, Jio’s executives are still counting on the hyper response which they have received through the registrations. One Jio official said, “People are not only sending in their own requests, but also encouraging their neighbours to do so, and thus adding to the demand, which would help the company prioritise roll-out schedules.”
To recall, Jio announced the GigaFiber broadband services in July and started taking registrations for the same since August 15. The telco is providing free three months of service to customers under JioGigaFiber Preview offer, but a customer has to pay an upfront amount of Rs 4,500 for the ONT device Jio provides.