While most mammoth industries such as retail, hospitality and aviation were crippled by COVID-19, the telecom industry boomed exponentially during the pandemic.
In India, the telecom sector’s growth was mainly driven by fixed-line broadband services, a service despite existing for years, started gained traction during the lockdown period in 2020.
With the majority of the workforce adhering to the social distancing norms and adopting the work-from-home lifestyle, the demand for wired broadband grew significantly in both urban and semi-urban areas.
In a statement about the same, Sathish Gopalaiah, partner-telecom, Deloitte India, said that the otherwise stagnant segment of telecom services witnessed growth on the back of the consumers’ increased reliance on the internet and enterprises adopting remote work at scale.
Surged Demand For Wired Broadband: Here To Stay In 2021
According to various industry experts, the use of wired broadband won’t be observing a dip anytime soon as remote working will still be very much prevalent in 2021. Unless a country-wide mass COVID-19 vaccination drive is undertaken.
The pandemic-induced sudden surge for wired connection also sped up the PM Wani aka Wi-Fi Access Network Interface Project which, was being delayed since March 2017 when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India aka TRAI first proposed it.
According to the latest announcement which was received in this month, the PM Wani project will set up Wi-Fi hotspots at public places such as grocery stores, tea stalls, restaurants and hotels in order to lighten the load on wireless services.
T.V. Ramachandran, the president of a policy think tank called Broadband India Forum, in a statement, said that the mobile data tariffs are continually rising despite being much affordable than it was previously. Thus, Wi-Fi hotspots can emerge as a more economic means for mass public connectivity.
By 2023, given the size of India’s telecom market which constitutes of a 6th of the world’s users, TRAI said that the nation will have close to 100 million public Wi-Fi hotspots. Now, to grab a share of the fixed-line broadband, Reliance Jio Infocomm has already launched their tariff plans under JioFibre as of August.
The Ambani-spearheaded telco is offering plans starting from ₹399 per month which comes along with many other bundled add-ons and services. Bharati Airtel has also announced their plans for the same which starts from ₹499.
After BSNL aka Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, which has 7.75 million wired broadband users, Airtel is the second biggest player with 2.67 million customers. Reliance Jio which is a new entrant in telecom space currently has only 1.70 million subscribers and is yet to catch up.
All in all, 2020 has been an exceptional year wherein telecom became a more essential service than ever.
The director-general of Cellular Operators Association of India S.P. Kochhar, in a statement, said that the pandemic led to the entire telecom industry coming together to seamlessly delivering quality services to a large population.
He further said that various government bodies such as municipal corporations, the state governments and the central government worked in a smooth and unison fashion with telcos to make sure telecom workers are able to provide services with ease.
Now, it remains to be seen how the pace of wired-broadband adoption further grows in the years to come. We will keep you updated. Until then, stay tuned.