We missed this earlier: Hathway’s broadband users consumed 188GB of data on average per month in FY20, the company revealed in its annual report released on September 3. This is a 66% YoY increase in data consumption on the ISP’s network compared to the previous year’s 113GB. While lockdowns only started in late March, some companies had already started telling employees to work from home in the weeks prior, presumably contributing to this growth. Hathway is majority-owned by Reliance Industries Limited.
Since Hathway has stopped releasing quarterly investor presentations, the surge in data use and broadband subscriber growth beyond the March quarter is unknown, and may only be revealed on an annual basis when the company publishes its next annual report. The numbers are likely to have spiked in Q1FY21 as lockdowns increased broadband demand, but Hathway has only released consolidated financial statements for its entire business, including its cable TV business, in the quarters after Q4FY20.
According to TRAI data, Hathway is the fifth largest wired broadband operator in the country, behind BSNL, Airtel, ACT Broadband, and Reliance Jio (which owns a majority stake in the company).
- Data use: In Q3FY20 — the last quarter for which broadband-specific data was available — Hathway users consumed on average 155GB. The quarter before that, this number stood at 146GB. This number is likely higher for Chennai, a city for which Hathway discloses usage separately since all subscribers in the city are connected via faster fiber optic cables. In Q3FY20, Chennai’s usage stood at 190GB, just 10GB shy of what Hathway says is the developed market average of 200GB.
- This usage has pushed the average per-user usage to 1.04Mbps, compared to Q3FY20’s 0.92Mbps.
- Revenue: Hathway has not disclosed broadband-specific revenue in the quarters following Q4FY20. In FY20, Hathway made Rs 567.7 crore from broadband, compared to Rs 517.52 crore in the prior year. This represents a 7.6% YoY growth. Its subscriber base has increased to 97 lakhs, compared to the previous year’s 81 lakhs, a 19.8% YoY increase. It has added 2 lakh subscribers since then till June 30, according to TRAI data released this month. The last quarter doesn’t seem to have been drastically different, as the pandemic’s impact is likely to have surged after FY20 had already ended.
- Assets and spending: Likely as a result of Reliance acquiring a majority stake in the company, Hathway’s broadband-related assets swelled from Rs 1044.84 crore in 2018–19 to Rs 3,988.41 crore in 2019–20. Bandwidth and leased line expenses grew from Rs 40.75 crore to Rs 63.73 crore.
- ARPU growth a challenge: In a SWOT analysis for its broadband business, Hathway cited its customers’ high data use, and partnerships with content providers as strengths; retaining lower data using customers and ARPU growth as challenges; rapid growth in demand in “power cities”, smart city projects, and OTT streaming services as opportunities; and curiously enough, “Technology Changes will lead to upgradation” as a threat, along with wireless data providers’ cheap tariffs.