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Atria overtakes MTNL to be India’s 3rd-largest wired broadband player

MUMBAI: Atria Convergence Technology CEO Bala Malladi is a happy man. Soon after crossing the milestone of one million subscribers, the company that he heads has overtaken state-owned major MTNL to become India’s third-largest wired broadband service provider.

Atria added 40,000 subscribers in August to take its total base to 1.09 million compared to MTNL’s 1.07 million, according to data provided by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) until 31 August 2016.

“When we achieved 1 million wired broadband subscribers, it was a big achievement for us. Now we have crossed another milestone and overthrown MTNL to have just two wired broadband service providers ahead of us. We have already crossed 1.10 million subscribers,” Malladi tells TelevisionPost.com.

Bala Malladi Center

For a company that operates in limited number of cities in the southern states, this is no small feat. Backed by private equity firms India Value Fund Advisors (IVFA) and TA Associates, the broadband and cable TV service provider has shown that it can grow even in competitive times.

“We have become the third-largest wired broadband player by subscribers despite not having a presence across the country. This is primarily because of our quality of service and focus on providing high-bandwidth connections and high-speed broadband plans. Our highest plan is 100 Mbps,” explains Malladi.

Almost 80% of Atria’s new customers come through referrals, a piece of data that elates Malladi.

“We have a very dedicated and vibrant workforce. This allows us to have a customer-centric approach to the business,” he says.

Atria has been recognised as one of the top 100 best companies in India to work for in 2016. “We have imbibed our principal investor IVFA’s employee and customer-centric belief system. IVFA truly believes in building a long-term sustainable business underpinned by a strong value system. Our organisational culture has been a true differentiator in an otherwise difficult and formidable wired broadband market,” says Malladi.

Churn for Atria is one of the lowest in the industry. While Atria has been mopping up subscribers, MTNL has seen a continuous churn. The state-run telecom and broadband major lost 10,000 subscribers in August, which led to its subscriber base shrinking to 1.07 million. In July, the company had lost 20,000 customers.

It’s not just MTNL that is losing customers. Its elder sibling BSNL too lost 20,000 customers, thereby ending August with a base of 9.84 million customers. As of July, the company’s subscriber base stood at 9.86 million.

However, there is no threat to BSNL’s numero uno position as it is sitting pretty at the top leading its nearest rival Airtel by almost 8 million subscribers.

Bharti Airtel added 30,000 subscribers to end August with 1.91 million subscribers. You Broadband, the fifth-largest wired broadband player, has a subscriber base of 0.57 million.

As on 31 August, the top five wired broadband service providers were BSNL (9.84 million), Bharti Airtel (1.91 million), Atria Convergence Technologies (1.09 million), MTNL (1.07 million) and You Broadband (0.57 million). The figure is based on data provided by the service providers to TRAI.

Atria’s network to the customer ratio is 40%. This means that the company has 2.5 million homes passed.

So, how has the launch of Reliance Jio impacted Atria? “Reliance Jio is in the mobility area, and we have to wait longer to know the real impact. Overall, the broadband market has seen a lot of dynamism. Even Airtel has responded to Jio’s launch. Despite competition, our growth rates are going to be fairly within our target zones,” sums up Malladi.

The total number of broadband subscribers increased 2.84% to 171.71 million at the end of August from 166.96 million a month ago.

Segment–wise Broadband Subscriber base and Monthly Growth Rates in the month of August, 2016
The top five service providers constituted 85.16% market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of August. These service providers were Bharti Airtel (45.35 million), Vodafone (35.01 million), Idea Cellular (29.58 million), BSNL (21.04 million) and Reliance Communications Group (15.24 million).

Service Provider-wise Market Share of Broadband (wired+wireless) Services as on 31.08.2016
The top five wireless broadband service providers were Bharti Airtel (43.44 million), Vodafone (35.00 million), Idea Cellular (29.58 million), Reliance Communications Group (15.13 million) and BSNL (11.20 million), according to TRAI data.

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