Indian full-service provider Bharti Airtel has launched a new 1Gbps plan, widely seen as a response to the launch of rival operator Jio’s fibre broadband plans earlier this month. The offering – dubbed Airtel Xstream Fibre – is priced at INR3,999 (USD55.8) per month and includes unlimited fixed calls to other Indian fixed numbers as well as access to video content from Netflix, Amazon and ZEE5. In addition, customers will be able to utilise Airtel’s Xstream application, with the company noting that through the app and related Xstream devices – a ‘smart stick’ and 4K hybrid smart box – customers will have access to ‘one of the widest entertainment catalogues [comprising] hundreds of satellite TV channels, tens of thousands of movies and shows in English, Hindi and multiple Indian languages, millions of songs, plus access to all the popular over-the-top (OTT) entertainment apps on one platform.’ Airtel Xstream is available over Airtel’s fibre network in 14 cities, but will be rolled out to additional markets in the coming months.
Jio’s equivalent ‘JioFiber Platinum’ plan is also priced at INR3,999 per month and also includes unlimited calls and a year’s subscription to Jio’s suite of OTT entertainment apps. Further, the company’s current promotion also provides users with a gateway and set-top box, which it claims are worth INR5,000 and INR6,400 respectively. Airtel’s new offering could mark the beginning of a new price war, as incumbent operators move to react to Jio’s entry into the fixed broadband market. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the introduction of Jio’s aggressively-priced mobile services in 2016 saw ARPU drop sharply as providers slashed prices to compete with the newcomer. The intensifying competition in the fixed broadband market may not be as drastic as the fight over mobile subscribers, however, with Airtel seemingly prioritising retention of its high-value users rather than attempting to match Jio in pricing at the lower end of the spectrum.
Indeed, in a related development the Economic Times writes that Vodafone Idea is planning to bundle residential broadband and 4G mobile services to keep pace with Airtel and Jio. The paper cites a person familiar with the matter as saying that Vodafone Idea will leverage the infrastructure resources of its ISP unit, YOU Broadband, and ‘bundle home broadband services to its high-spending 4G mobile users in its top ten-to-twelve markets.’