Reliance JioGigaFiber: Do you really need 1Gbps internet speeds?
After launching affordable data plans for mobile users in India, Reliance Jio is now looking to tap the broadband - a segment that has remained largely ignored by the major telecom operators until couple of years ago. While Jio is expected to bring the same ultra affordable pricing for its new broadband service, one of the highlights of GigaFiber is the speeds up to 1Gbps.
But, do you really need 1Gbps internet speeds? If your usage is no more than just basic browsing, social networking and streaming YouTube, internet speeds up to 40-50Mbps should be good enough.
"Gbps is something that sounds brilliant. But technically, it never is Gbps unless you are on a wired connection. So, I am not sure, said Shakthi Vadakkepat, a senior technology blogger.
"You don't 'need' Gigabit Internet right now, but use cases will definitely emerge as the speed grows more common," added another senior technology journalist based out of Bengaluru.
For power users, say one who streams and downloads 4K content or in an enterprise scenario with multiple workstations, GigaFiber's 1Gbps download speeds can matter.
"If you're living in a house with your family, imagine multiple users streaming high quality videos — maybe one person on the TV is watching in 4K, while another two people are watching on a laptop and a tablet at full-HD. At the same time, someone else has created a large presentation and needs to upload it. And maybe your devices are also downloading software updates and security patches in the background," he added. "All of these things could be happening simultaneously without affecting each other's experience even a little bit."
Note that Reliance Jio isn't the only one to offer a fiber service with high-speed internet services. State-run BSNL offers FTTH (fiber-to-the-home) service but up to 100Mbps rival Airtel launched 'V-Fiber' technology in 2016 as part of its Project Leap programme. Airtel, however, is promising maximum internet speeds up to 100Mbps. Smaller player like ACT is offering a ₹2,999 data plan with 1Gbps speeds with a monthly data quota of 3,000GB.
Prasanto K Rai, a senior industry analyst, believes 1Gbps may not be the only edge for JioGigaFiber but the entire package including subscription to OTT platforms. He also points out that the speed and bundle will appeal to niche consumers who have so far relied upon Airtel, Spectranet and ACT for faster internet speeds.
"It isn't the 1 Gbps speed itself that is earthshaking, because people don't really get a great incremental benefit at speeds beyond 40 or 100 Mbps today unless they're consuming multiple steams of 4K video. The most an upmarket apartment in Gurgaon would typically use is a single 4K or two HD streams, with 40 Mbps or, increasingly, 100 Mbps, usually from Airtel or SpectraNet or ACT, is common," he explained.
"So if not the speed alone, then what is Jio's edge? It's the total bundle that will be a killer: the total data package, that is certain to be very attractive, the bundling of TV/video, and landline service," he added.
The success of Reliance JioGigaFiber depends upon the increasing video consumption with players like Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video coming into the picture.
"The driving force for end-masse high-speed broadband penetration in India won't be internet usage by 20 million 'broadband users', but video usage by several hundred million consumers. That's what Jio is aiming for. Hotstar is already a major player in mobile, and is beginning to be popular on platforms like Amazon Prime. Audio services like Gaana and Saavn are picking up beyond the mobile, with sales of Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. I see Jio GigaFiber disrupting the broadband-entertainment-landline complex the way it did mobile," Prasanto concluded.