By Salman SH & Sneha Johari
State owned telco BSNL has launched a new dual speed broadband plan called ‘Experience Unlimited Broadband 249’ without Fair Usage Policy (FUP) limitations. For up to 1GB, users will get speeds of 2Mbps, while after that, users are free to use as much internet as is possible at 1Mbps speed. The good part about this plan is that it costs Rs 249 only.
But the plan will be applicable only for the first 6 months on a new BSNL internet connection. After 6 months, this internet connection will be automatically converted to a ‘BBG Combo ULD 499‘ plan which offers 2Mbps speeds for up to 12 GB and unlimited internet after that at 1Mbps.
The Experience Unlimited Broadband 249 plan will also offer unlimited free calls between 9PM to 7AM & on all Sundays to any network in India. This plan seems like a ‘paid preview’ of BSNL’s broadband, specially targeted at first time broadband users.
MediaNama’s take: Finally, BSNL has taken its first baby step towards unleashing real internet use in India. It may be late and it may be a small step, but we imagine that new broadband users might like to try this plan out before they start subscribing to (maybe unlimited) internet plans in the future. BSNL is also looking to acquire new users with this tier of pricing.
Pathetic state of Internet speeds in India
Last month, the TRAI recommended that broadband speed be defined as a minimum of 2Mbps from the existing 512Kbps, while we suggested 8Mbps as a minimum. This is other than the fact that Akamai’s report on the internet speeds from around the world ranked India a lowly 114th internationally, and slowest in APAC, in terms of average internet speeds. Meanwhile, we have reported before how almost every internet service provider imposes an FUP without full disclosure, and at times even advertising it as unlimited plans.
Related read: TRAI paper wants clarity on FUP from broadband players
Mobile internet: Last month, BSNL unveiled an unlimited 3G Internet pack without any FUP or data usage restriction through an STV (Special Tariff Voucher) data recharge pack costing Rs 1099 (STV 1099), valid for 30 days. BSNL also introduced two new 3G packs costing Rs 549 and Rs 156, which offers 10GB (30 days validity) and 2GB (10 days validity) data respectively.
Competition from Jio
Both the broadband and cellular plans unveiled by BNSL mirror what Reliance Jio was undertaking: Provide free or cheap access to services, and then convince customers to latch on to its services post exhaustion of free data/voice limits. Jio tied up with 19 different smartphone brands including Micromax, Samsung, ASUS, etc to extend free preview offers. Idea, Airtel and Vodafone also slashed some mobile internet pack rates.
Over 130 million wired and wireless broadband connections in India
Last month, India had 136.55 million wireless and wireline broadband connections during the three months ending December 2015, registering an increase of 13 % over the last quarter, according to the data released by India’s telecom regulator TRAI.
Our broadband coverage.