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Multi system operator Ortel Communications, which had started public WiFi hotspots in January, said that it has  30,000 people accessing internet from these, senior management revealed in a call with analysts. “So, definitely it will be a good tool for us in both ways, one on the marketing front where people see Ortel on their screens and we also are in a portion to target those audiences to be converted into a wireline customer,” Jiji John, vice president of broadband business, said.

Ortel’s existing wireline customers can use their accounts at hot spots without paying any additional charge. ” The home package whatever they have subscribed to, will be debited from that,” John explained. Currently, the company has 19 towns where public wifi hot spots are installed. Ortel primarily operates in eastern states and has bigger presence in Buhbaneshwar, Odisha

For context, Google’s railway public WiFi has two million users and in June it said that it had crossed 100,000 in a single day once in Bhubaneshwar.

Bibhu Prasad Rath, CEO of Ortel, said that the company is expanding to other towns and that they are following a similar strategy used by US-based Comcast.  Rath added that the market in India is divided into customers who want reliability of connection and speed. “When it comes to mobility, we are not the guys actually so it goes it the Telcos,” he said.

“Now, we wanted to build in a little bit of mobility into life for two – three reasons: one is, there are places where people spend time outside their homes and if we can give them an opportunity to use the high speed service in those places just now at home but in few other places so, it gives them more time on our service, that is one. And the other one was to use it as a marketing tool so that we get new users and get their data base, mobile numbers, contact payment, do cross-selling, etc,” Rath explained.

Ortel in the future said that its is trying to bring in a prepaid coupon to access public WiFi.

Competition from Reliance Jio

Rath added that Ortel is aware of the competition with Reliance Jio entering and said that they do not want to lose out on their USP which is speed. Ortel in the last months has been adding additional bandwidth for customers even if they have not subscribe to a higher plan.

“Today actually on the ground the speed is 20%-25%-30% higher than what it was one year ago. That is why you will see on the P&L side there is a 19% increase in the bandwidth cost actually. And that 19% increase is a combination of growth in customer base as well as the extra bandwidths I have given to the customers,” Rath added.

Download: Transcript

Image credit: Flickr user Cameron Adams under CCBY.20