When would Reliance jump in the broadband arena? Noone knows for sure. Plus its been debated ad nauseum in the various forums.
Would entry of Reliance make any difference? I believe it would. First, Reliance believes in ramping up volumes at low margins which forces all others to market their products to match the same.Secondly and more importantly, Reliance has clearly set its sight on the convergence. Adlabs proves it.
Reliance is slowly entering in the wireline business or the Fixed line telephony- just like BSNL and Airtel. Why would it do so given the fact that it entails such huge investments?
I have a reason to believe that content delivery would take place via DSL. At current technology, it can support upto 25Mbps. Plus, Asymmetric DSL is a proven technology. Given the fact that its got an advantage of buying out new equipment at lower costs, Reliance can beat Airtel ( on price front) and BSNL ( over newer equipment). Plus it can beat both of them hands down on Content.
The other option that Reliance has is to deliver it’s content via cable. While cable can support higher speeds, I doubt that Reliance would want to enter the murky cable business. This has seen the entry of mafia in recent times and declared wars with broadcasters. In real terms, cable is choked and till the time TRAI makes it mandatory to digitise the channels, there is nothing that would force the cable operators to invest in technology to support digital formats. ( Digital formats allow for higher number of channels)
They could sublease the bandwidth to the cable operators like Sify has done. However, Sify has spoilt it’s “fair name” in order to garner more subscribers. Sub leasing the bandwidth to the cable operator isn’t a viable business model; one doesnt have quality control. While it maybe possible to legally bound to maintain service levels, I doubt whether this is actually possible. Plus, it would be too costly for Reliance to send up it’s personnel to climb up trees and poles to hang the cables…
DSL remains a viable option. It isnt clear because their foray via cable to provide Internet in the metropolitan cities is still in the pilot stage. I understand that this too is available in select pockets. In any case, its difficult to compete against the established Multi System Operators like Hathway who have taken an Internet Service Provider licence and are leveraging their network costs by providing “value added services” like Internet. ( Hathway is promoted by the Star Group).
In the long run, Reliance may just wire up our homes via optical fibre- just the same Verizon is doing it in U.S. Its a possibilty- there is nothing in the media though to suggest anything like this.
Lets wait and watch.