Udit Mehrotra, chief executive officer and managing director, Spectranet

Spectranet, a key player in the wireline broadband market, is focused on delivering high quality broadband services to urban centres in the country. The company has rapidly expanded its presence in India by offering attractive plans for residential and enterprise consumers. In an interview with tele.net, Udit Mehrotra, chief executive officer and managing director, Spectranet, talks about the company’s key offerings, its experience in the broadband space and his outlook for the telecom industry.

What was the motivation behind the Shyam Group’s entry into internet services?

The motivation was very simple – our strong belief in the massive growth of data services in the future. When we entered the market way back in 2008, the industry was talking about speeds of upto 1 Mbps or 2 Mbps. But we were aware that this was not the limit where the potential of the data segment ended. In fact, the country was still at a nascent stage of data adoption, with a huge potential for data growth.

Today, when we look at India, there is still a long way to go in terms of wireline broadband adoption. In a country of over

1 billion population, we have only about 18 million wireline broadband connections, which is abysmally low. This pro­mi­ses a significant growth potential for us. As the data usage grows, both in ter­ms of number of households and volume, conversion of household networks from copper to fibre will be crucial. Copper was never designed to provide broadband, but to deliver telephone services on home pre­mi­ses. Fibre is the way to go when it comes to delivery of large capacity and high-speed broadband services.

What are the key offerings of Spectranet?

Our approach to broadband is very simple. We offer one service, which is symmetric in nature and provides 100 Mbps download and upload speed. Further, the user gets unlimited data usage, without any drop in speed. Usually, an 8 Mbps or 16 Mbps broadband plan at home has a limit of 20 GB or 40 GB, post the exhaustion of which, the speed drops to 1 Mbps or 2 Mbps.

When we designed our business, we had designed it to deliver 1 Gbps speed to every consumer and 10 Gbps speed to every business. Thus, our network is very futuristic in nature.

What is your current service reach? How has been the user response so far?

We are very focused on urban cities and will continue to strengthen our presence across Delhi NCR (which itself is three or four cities), Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. The response from these markets has been very encouraging. Before we entered these cities, we were sceptical of the demand that we could expect. But to our surprise, there has been a high receptivity to our services. Our services made users realise what lies beyond the speeds of 2 Mbps, or 8 Mbps or 16 Mbps.

How have you managed to differentiate yourself from other broadband players in the telecom market?

Our first point of difference is that we operate on an end-to-end OFC network. So, when we talk about 100 Mbps, we actually bring fibre inside users’ homes and deliver the speed to them. Fibre connectivity also means that now the user’s home has be­co­me capable of supporting speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps in future. Secondly, we are able to deliver 100 Mbps, unlimited, symmetric-use technology at a one-third to one-fourth cost, when compared to anybody in the market.

In recent times, the data consumption has grown substantially. If consumers were consuming x amount of data in the past, they are consuming 10x today. Once a user experiences 100 Mbps speed, life changes substantially. The entire paradigm changes from downloading content to streaming online. The imp­act that a service provider makes when they take a user from 2 Mbps to 4 Mbps is non-existent. But, a change from 2 Mbps to 100 Mbps is a paradigm shift that Spec­t­r­anet has brought about for both residential as well as bu­siness consumers. Spectranet is ushering in the third age of connectivity in India by su­pporting the convergence of voice and data.

How has been the policy support to the wireline broadband segment?

For long, the mobile/wireless segment has received much policy impetus with no focus on wireline broadband. However, the situation has changed in the last one and a half years, when several discussions and deliberations happened around wireline broadband as an industry. This is a good starting point even as the government support in terms of policy for wireline broadband services is yet to be seen.

What is your outlook for the telecom sector? What are your plans for the next few years?

There is a huge opportunity in the broadband space. As a service provider and as an organisation, our focus is on enabling an individual, a family as well as a business with digital reach.

Over the next two to three years, we do plan to more than double our coverage within the existing cities of our operations, taking our services to a larger user base within these cities. We would like to take our services to as many households as possible in future.