Reliance Jio Infocomm said it’s received strong response from several 900 towns and cities within a fortnight of the beginning of registrations because of its high-speed home broadband services. The Mukesh Ambani-owned firm, though is facing some resistance from local cable operators (LCOs), in extending crucial last mile connectivity in key markets.
ET spoke to some LCOs in Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka regions who stated the origin of the last mile problem stems from their misgivings about Jio not cooperating with them, but rather directly approaching housing societies and resident welfare associations (RWAs) to pitch the organization’s home broadband solutions. LCOs also fear they will not be able to compete with Jio, which could well disrupt that business with its stone bottom offers, such as it has in cellular services.
Jio officials, who asked to not be named, though, say they are willing to bring all stakeholders together, and build on the strong response it has after registrations for Jio GigaFiber started on August 15. Jio hasn’t given any date to get a commercial roll-out.
“We’re taking proactive steps to resolve any last-mile connectivity challenges to prioritise and guarantee timely roll-outs in markets in which consumer registrations are strong,” a senior company executive told ET, adding that the telco has”got enthusiastic consumer response from almost 900 cities throughout the nation” out of the targeted 1,100 in barely a fortnight because registrations for its FTTH services began on August 15.
AK Rastogi, president of Delhi-based All India Aavishkar Dish Antenna Sangh, among the biggest cable TV operator associations in the country, told ET the Jio’s move to perform the last mile connectivity to its own”has caused confusion in the bottom level, creating differences between the company and the cable operators”.
His view was echoed by Arvind Prabhu, president of Maharashtra Cable Operators’ Federation, who told ET that the LCOs would be the final shuttle owners and have invested in the company for 20-25 decades, which is currently under threat.
Experts say last mile connectivity deployments are crucial for Jio to establish its own greenfield fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband solutions, especially since every building has to be physically connected, unlike at the mobile services business in which towers may be available and shared among telcos.
“FTTH, once done greenfield, is slow, and last mile deployments are tricky, and there is always a chance that take-up is slower than anticipated, which is why Jio’s target of 50 million TV homes, indicating an annual rate of 7-8 million homes per year may not be easy to achieve organically,” Rajiv Sharma, HSBC manager & telecom analyst, stated.
However, Jio is optimistic about its prospects. “People are not only sending in their own requests, but also encouraging their acquaintances to do so, and thus adding to the need, which might help the company prioritise roll-out schedules,” stated the Jio executive.