Fastway to deploy Rs 250 cr Capex on broadband biz in next 1.5 years

MUMBAI: With Reliance Jio all set to roll out its fibre to the home (FTTH) broadband service from 15 August, multi system operator (MSO) Fastway Transmission is stepping up its investment in the broadband business.

Having already invested Rs 150 crore in broadband roll-out in the last two years, Fastway has planned a Rs 250 crore Capex over the next one and a half years to expand its broadband footprint.

“We have already invested Rs 150 crore in broadband and planning to invest Rs 250 crore more over the next 1.5 years till December 2020,” Fastway Transmission CEO Peeush Mahajan told TelevisionPost.com.

The company, which has operations to Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, is primarily focussing on Punjab to expand its broadband presence.

“We have already covered 80 cities in Punjab. We are targeting 100 cities this year. Then we will enter 1000-1500 big size villages,” Mahajan added.

He further stated the company is focussing on Punjab as it has its own fibre network in the state. “It is easy to expand when you have your own fibre,” he said.

After consolidating Punjab, Fastway will expand broadband in other areas. “We are rolling out broadband in other states as well but the focus is Punjab,” Mahajan said.

Fastway has migrated to GPON technology. Earlier, it was providing broadband through DOCSIS technology.

Queried about Jio GigaFiber launch, Mahajan said that the industry is awaiting further details on the service. “We are still awaiting more details on Jio GigaFiber. They have officially announced the service but the pricing details have still not been revealed,” he stated.

Mahajan believes that Jio GigaFiber will bring in competition which will help the wired broadband market to grow. It will also lead to an improvement in service and a better choice for customers.

He is not too worried about the likely impact from Jio GigaFiber stating that the MSOs and LCOs have also been doing FTTH broadband for many years now. He also feels that the FTTH roll-out will not be an easy task for Reliance Jio.

“Jio is talking about the urban market which just contributes 30% to our business. For us, the big growth area is rural areas. We have been focussing on the broadband business for the last two years because we knew someday somebody will come. The rural market is still untapped,” Mahajan elaborated.

As reported earlier, Fastway’s net profit for FY17 jumped 70% to Rs 75.48 crore compared to Rs 44.41 crore in the previous fiscal. PAT margin saw an improvement at 13.56% as against 8.46% in FY16. Revenue grew by 6.18% to Rs 556.8 crore compared to Rs 524.39 crore in the year-ago period.

Fastway was set up as a joint venture between Gurdeep Singh and Digicable Network India in 2007. The MSO has seeded over 3.8 million set top boxes (STBs) and has a more than 10,000 local cable operators (LCOs) under its network.

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