logo_hathwayHathway Cable and Datacom has started a movie subscription service called ‘Broadband Movies’ for its customers in association with Eros Now, reports IndiaTelevision.

This service will be free for the first 2 months for all Hathway customers. While the details of this tie up are not entirely clear yet, it is likely that Hathway will not count data streamed from Eros Now towards the monthly Fair Usage Policy implemented by the ISP, while providing a monthly, subscription based, pricing model for unlimited movies to all customers.

Hathway has been offering a 50Mbps default minimum speed in the cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune. Given their recent tie up with Eros Now, customers will have access to high quality legal streams of Hindi, Tamil and Punjabi movies available in the Eros Now library.

At the end of Q3-FY14 the company had reported that its broadband income increased by 7% quarter-on-quarter to Rs 36.60 crore and added 270,000 new connections. The company also said that its broadband ARPU increased during the quarter after it started offering 50 Mbps plans. It has been upgrading its infrastructure to DOCSIS 3.0 to deliver speeds of over 100 Mbps and has switched 10,000 connections to this specification. It is also worth noting that at the end of FY13, Hathway had said that it was a Category-A Internet Service Provider (ISP) that covered both retail and corporate segments. It claimed to be the fifth largest ISP in India, with 416,000 broadband subscribers.

Net neutrality

This is not the first time ISPs or telcos have offered various value added services. While this trend appears to be a big win for the customers, it’s another step towards the end of net neutrality as we know it. Airtel already caps customer data usage while discounting data usage from BigFlix powered Airtel Movies, just like Hathway plans to do with its Eros Now tie-up. Due to the imposed data caps, it would make one service more attractive to consumers.

Ideally, ISPs should focus more on improving connection speeds, reducing ping times and assuring faster content delivery among other things, especially considering India has some of the worst broadband adoption rates in the world. Instead Indian ISPs are headed toward a walled subscription based model, allowing free access only to content providers that are happy to pay them extra.

It’s not just Airtel and Hathway, Vodafone, Uninor and the state sponsored BSNL, also blatantly disregard a paying customer’s right to choose between various third-party services. This, along with the push for “revenue sharing agreement” by the Cellular Operators Association of India in the Government, bodes truly dark days for net neutrality in India.