High-Speed, Affordable Internet: Broadband Users Spoilt For Choice

Gone are the days of restricting ourselves to the likes of Airtel and BSNL for broadband internet in India.

Tech News
4 min read
512Kbps ranks as the average internet speed in India. (Photo: iStock)

There’s never been a better time to get a home broadband connection in India. The Netflix and Hotstar-esque video-streaming platforms will be pleased. With speeds ranging up to 100 Mbps and no data usage limit, the new high-speed internet also comes in an affordable package.

With prices starting from Rs 999, 100GB data limits and speeds up to 40Mbps, these are exciting days for anyone who can’t survive without the internet. All thanks to internet brands like Spectranet, ACT Fibernet and a few others.

Airtel and BSNL have shortchanged internet users in India with their mediocre speeds, and fair usage policy (FUP) that only offers limited data usage. But all that is now passé. Let’s see who measures up in 2017:

The Contenders

How come we are suddenly getting high-speed internet? It’s all thanks to the use of fibre optic cables. In comparison to fixed-line copper cables, fibre optics are equipped to handle high-speed internet activity, without worrying about running out of data.

ACT Fibernet, Spectranet and Excitel are brands that have managed to separate themselves from the old order with aplomb.

Aided by FDI rules for retail in broadband, brands like ACT Fibernet attract global investors, giving them the scope to offer high-speed, FUP-free internet on a budget.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US prescribes 25 Mbps as its minimum broadband speed. While in India, we’ve barely managed to go past 2Mbps, even in 2017.
Telecom Expert

When Ajay decided to go with Excitel for broadband at his home, he couldn’t believe what he’d struck upon. After initial hesitation, many users like Ajay have found the solace and frugality that internet users have been deprived of in India.

Understanding the pain points of users, ACT Fibernet and Spectranet are keen on changing the face of broadband in the country for good.

In 2017, these brands are vying for your attention. (Photo: Altered by <b>The Quint</b>)
In 2017, these brands are vying for your attention. (Photo: Altered by The Quint)
People in India have not been given the best of internet broadband speeds, but we promise and deliver speeds up to 100Mbps. 
Bala Malladi, CEO, Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt Ltd  

ACT Fibernet is yet to expand its footprint beyond South India and a few parts of Delhi, but for what it’s worth, Malladi feels that with 1.2 million users on its network, their patience is definitely paying them dividends.

Spectranet is the other ISP worth talking about, with its similar broadband internet tactics catching the eye of the new-age internet user.

You never fear running out of electricity in India, but with internet that hasn’t been the case. With video consumption on the rise, no-limit internet plans have got to be the way to move.
Udit Mehrotra, CEO and Managing Director, Spectranet & Ubico 

Mehrotra boasts of a strong telecom heritage, being the son of Rajiv Mehrotra, Chairman of MTS. Unlike ACT Fibernet, Spectranet has relied on an urban-focused approach, connecting Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Pune with its service.

The Challenge

For consumers in India, if something figures in the ‘too good to be true’ category, they prefer staying away from it. The ‘terms and conditions’ haven’t worked out in their favour in the past, so ignoring a Spectranet or ACT Fibernet is understandable. And that’s exactly what Mehrotra and Co face on a day-to-day basis.

For brands like us, making customers believe that we deliver on our claims is a tough nut to crack. They want assurances, one after the other, to feel their money is invested in the right place.
Udit Mehrotra, CEO and Managing Director, Spectranet & Ubico 

However, telecom experts feel that mobile internet poses the biggest challenge for the wired internet community. The segment has not grown beyond single digits, while the ACTs have reported over 50% year-on-year growth, aided by their limited-service presence.

With an average of 80GB data downloads per month, ACT Fibernet has relied on word-of-mouth to find new consumers, but Malladi was quick to point out that acquiring and retaining customers at the same time has its own issues.

Customers switch ISPs if the service is not good for around two years, and for those relying on word-of-mouth for obtaining users, that could go either way.
Bala Malladi, CEO, Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt Ltd  

Service-wise, ACT Fibernet and Spectranet claim to solve complaints in up to eight hours. You can pay the bill (prepaid/postpaid) via a mobile app and online portal, among other platforms.

Threat to DTH?

Speaking to Malladi, Mehrotra, and telecom experts has led us to believe that while mobile internet continues to flourish, direct to home (DTH) providers have something to worry about.

Content providers moving to YouTube, Netflix and others mean that DTH companies face a threat from these high-speed internet providers. 
Telecom Expert

And they’ve got a point. Spectranet, for example, manages to offer buffer-free streaming from its content partner providers. Giving them direct access to shows and videos from their network.

Unlike on DTH, users can watch unlimited HD, FHD and 4K content. DTH cannot match higher internet speed providers like us that enable consumption of high-quality content without data limits. 
Udit Mehrotra, CEO and Managing Director, Spectranet & Ubico 

Going forward, mobile and wired internet will surely co-exist in India, where mobile caters to on-the-go data users, home broadband goes on to fulfil the consumer’s Netflix and Amazon Prime Video appetite.

Mobile internet need not worry about its home broadband counterparts, but as an internet consumer, things have never been so good.

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