Prem Ojha, Group CEO, Fastway and
Netplus Broadband,

Amidst rising demand for broadband connectivity, internet service providers (ISPs) have been witnessing growing traction across the country. Netplus Broadband, a 100 per cent subsidiary of the Fastway Group, is one such ISP, providing next-gen broadband services and witnessing high growth. The company has an underground fibre network spanning over 15,000 km and a last-mile fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network spanning 16,000 km. Currently, the ISP provides services across the Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir regions. In an interview with tele.net, Prem Ojha, Group CEO, Fastway and Netplus Broadband, discusses drivers for broadband uptake in India, Netplus’s key focus areas in India and its future plans…

Could you give a brief background of the company? What are your key business areas and offerings?

The company started operations in 2016 and did an aggressive roll-out across eight states with six million home passes thro­ugh 14,000 channel partners, with powerful and aggressive customer offerings providing value for money to customers.

Netplus Broadband is the first service provider to launch a 1 GB plan in its service areas, along with many other initiatives such as truly unlimited plans. The company has seen significant growth with over 500,000 customers and is a dominant market leader in the regions that it covers, with every second customer in those areas using Netplus services. In terms of revenues, the company holds 44 per cent market share.

What have been the key drivers of the company’s broadband business in India?

The key drivers of the company’s broadband business have been:

  • State-of-the-art FTTH network with last-mile connectivity
  • Aggressive roll-out and customer acquisition offers
  • Customer-centric value-for-money offerings
  • Many industry-first initiatives to maintain a competitive edge, such as truly unlimited plans and being the first one to launch a 1 GB plan in these regions
  • Aggressive expansion of services in C and D Category towns and villages

How has the performance of the company’s br­o­adband services been in the past few years?

We acquire nearly 40 per cent of new customers in our areas of operation. We have gr­own at a compound an­n­ual growth rate of 55 per cent, both in terms of subscribers and revenue. This is more than twice the industry grow­th rate.

Where do you stand in terms of competition in your cities of operation? How are your offerings different from those of your competitors?

We have market leadership in 90 per cent of the cities where we operate. We stand at the second spot in the remaining cities.

What are the key emerging trends/opportunities in India’s broadband market? How does the company plan to tap these opportunities?

Digitising India is the key focus of the industry. Broadband serves as the backbone for several industries including digital health and telemedicine, edutech, en­ter­tainment through over-the-top (OTT) platforms, fintech, digital banking and e-commerce, and even remote working and management for en­terprises/cor­porates. Alongside maintaining our str­engths, it is time to add more value thr­ough additional services riding on broadband connectivity. Netplus Broadband is recognised for its superfast connection speeds and high customer retention rate. It is the dominant and fastest gr­o­wing ISP in the region, pr­o­viding next-generation services such as high speed bro­ad­band on the FTTH platform along with smart telephony, and OTT services.

What are the key challenges that broadband providers like you face while offering services?

Broadband is a growing yet fiercely competitive market. This keeps our average revenue per user under pressure. How­ever, the­se challenges are very temporary in na­ture and we strongly believe that only qua­lity services and superior value-for-mo­­ney offerings will help us retain our leadership position in the long run.

What are the company’s future plans/strategies for the broadband market? 

We are striving to reorganise at the natio­nal level as a model ISP providing next-generation services. We have partnered with Bharat Broadband Network Limited for rural expansion and have plans to invest a capex of Rs 3 billion in 2022. We are also working to be among the top five broadband companies in 2022. India has close to 650,000 villages so the next route of expansion for us, this year, will be a rural broadband project that we all are focusing upon. We will also be investing heavily in technology development and automation to gain an edge over the competition in delivering a next-generation experience. We will be continuously expanding and grooming our service delivery team. We plan to reach a base of 750,000 this year, with 10 million home passes.