Kerala Vision Broadband, the ISP arm of Kerala Cable TV Operators’ Association, has announced what is arguably the cheapest fiber broadband offer for new customers in Kerala.
The highlight of the new plan is that it comes without installation and modem charges, and is therefore ideal for a new customer.
The current tariff for a new connection in Kerala is around Rs 3,000 for the modem and Rs 1,000 as installation charge, taking the total to Rs 4,000, including taxes.
Under Kerala Vision’s latest offer, not only is the company providing a modem and installation at Rs 3,999, but also six months of broadband service at a speed of 100 Mbps. Taxes are likely to be charged extra.
The new Kerala Vision plan comes a fair use cap of 12,000 GB, which is unlikely to be breached by 95% of broadband users even if they use their connection most liberally. Most households consume only around 10-20 GB per day, or 300-600 GB per month.
The modem is not handed over to the user to keep, and has to be returned to Kerala Vision ISP if and when the connection is terminated.
The ISP also offers a second plan priced at Rs 2,999, but with a reduced speed of 60 Mbps and a lower fair usage cap of 9,000 GB, but with the same validity of six months.
The two offers are the cheapest start-up fiber broadband plans in Kerala market. But for those with their own fiber optic network terminals (ONTs) or modems, other ISPs like Alliance offer even cheaper fiber broadband plans.
For example, Alliance offers an unlimited 50 Mbps connection for Rs 500 per month, which works out to only Rs 3,000 for six months.
However, in this case, however, the customer has to buy his own fiber terminal, which usually costs around Rs 3,000-5,000 — depending on features such as dual-band Wifi — and also pay installation charges to the local cable operator. Cable operators in Kerala typically charge Rs 1,000 as installation charges, plus Rs 10 per meter of cable in case they need to draw more than 50 meters to reach the modem.
For comparison, Reliance Jio Fiber charges around Rs 2,500 as start-up charges, out of which only Rs 1,500 is returnable upon the cancellation of the connection.
Like the new KV plan, Jio Fiber modem continues to be the property of the company, and will be taken back when the connection is cancelled.
BSNL and RailWire too offer competitive fiber broadband plans in the range of Rs 500 per month, but in most cases, the user has to purchase his or her own modem, and also pay Rs 1,000 to the local cable operator as installation charges.
However, if the user is in an area or building where BSNL has laid its own fiber, he or she can get the connection at zero upfront cost. BSNL will still usually collect around Rs 1,500 as a returnable security deposit against the modem in the first bill.
Meanwhile, the availability of Kerala Vision’s new plan is dependent on the supply of modems with the local operator.
It is not clear whether Kerala Vision ISP, the company which holds the ISP license, will supply modems to LCOs for distribution under the scheme, or whether the LCOs are expected to purchase their own. LCOs typically do not like to tie up their working capital in the form of customer premise equipment, and generally prefer to sell these devices outright.
Kerala Vision is the cable brand of Kerala Cable TV Operators’ Association, the biggest organization of local cable operators in the state.
Cable TV Operators’ Association of Kerala works through various city-level units, all of which offer their services under the mother brand of Kerala Vision with local prefixes, such as Thrissur Cable Vision.
The parent organization is in charge of deciding the state-wide tariffs as well as statewide marketing and advertising campaigns. However, actual operations and other business decisions are handled by the local unit.
The association claims that its members have around 3.1 million cable connections. Given that Kerala is estimated to have around 10 million television sets, that would give Kerala Vision a market share of around 30%.