After disrupting the telecom sector, Reliance Jio seems well on its way to start another 'tariff war' -- this time in the cable and digital content and broadcasting market. Reliance Jio is building a robust digital content ecosystem in the country, which will get a huge boost after the official rollout of its fixed broadband service, called GigaFiber. The Mukesh Ambani-led company's attempts at buying stakes in Den Networks and Hathway Cable and Datacom, India's two largest cable TV and broadband service providers, will not only give it a direct access to over 20 million cable subscribers but will also help them capture around 23 per cent of the cable market, a Business Standard report said. This could also give both Airtel and SITI cable, who are prominent players in the broadband segment, a run for their money.
Subhash Chandra-owned SITI Networks claims to have a network of over 33,000 km of the optical fibre and coaxial cable, through which it provides cable services to over 11.3 million digital customers across 580 locations. Airtel, on the other hand, has 2.5 million broadband subscribers, mostly connected through the copper network. Amid a stiff competition from Reliance Jio, the company is planning to expand to 100 cities from the current number of 89. It is also gearing up to build the advanced fibre broadband network and hopes to tap in around 20 million subscribers in the next three years.
The final decision on Reliance Jio 's stake takeover in Den and Hathway could be announced as early as Wednesday. Hathway Cable is owned by the Raheja Group while Sameer Manchanda owns DEN Networks. Both these companies have informed the stock exchanges that their respective boards are meeting on October 17 to discuss and approve a proposal for raising funds. Interestingly, RIL's step-down subsidiary, Reliance Jio Media, which owns a pan-India cable licence, already boast links with both companies JioGigaFiber hopes to leverage.
The fixed broadband market is dominated by the state-owned BSNL, which has a subscriber base of 9.15 million subscribers, followed by Airtel with 2.21 million customers. Atria Convergence Technologies holds the third largest share with 1.34 million subscribers.
Although some industry experts expect the deals to come under the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) scanner, many negligible "overlap" in the two cable markets due to different areas of operations. DEN has a strong presence is Uttar Pradesh and north India but Hathway does its business in central and western India.
Edited by Manoj Sharma