Poor Connectivity Stalling Wi-Fi Adoption In Tier 2 Regions: Subhodeep Bhattacharya, Netgear

Subhodeep Bhattacharya
Regional Director, India and SAARC, NETGEAR
With ambitious government initiatives like Digital India Programme, India’s Wi-Fi market is expected to grow many folds in years to come. The wireless internet adoption however is being bogged down with the absence of a consistent network connectivity, particularly in tier 2 and tier 3 regions of the country, according to Subhodeep Bhattacharya, Regional Director, India and SAARC, Netgear.

Below are the excerpts from the exclusive interaction with Channel Times-:

How do you see initiatives like Digital India Programme and Make in India for the country’s network hardware industry?

Digital India and Make in India are a positive step in the right direction , Digital inclusion of more and more people is critical to the growth of India and it is beneficial to the growth of the IT industries as well . With the changing economic scenario, Make in India will become viable and will help make the cost of IT hardware more competitive. We think both these initiatives will be positive both for the industries as well as the customer.

There is a lot of talk about free Wi-Fi access across public spaces in the country. How do you see this development for the network industry?

Free Wi-Fi encourages usage and makes more and more people familiar with internet through Wi-Fi . With increasing reliance on internet, people would also look for broadband connections at home and at office which will generally improve the demand for networking products. We think free Wi-Fi is a market enabler and we should have more of it .

Do you think free Wi-Fi access can impact the data revenue of telecom operators in the country?

Free Wi-Fi acts as an enabler of digital business. But free access is usually limited in nature. The speeds are slower and the access is interrupted. With internet penetration being very low across India and free Wi-Fi not very easily available, we believe it would not have a major impact on telecom revenue. As we have seen in developed countries free Wi-Fi has not really impacted the telecom revenue much but it has generally increased the demand for bandwidth. We expect the same to happen in India.

Which are they key verticals in the country, generating a major demand for Wi-Fi routers and other network gears?

The biggest segment in terms of demand is home, where we are seeing more and more people looking for better bandwidth and longer range. We also see SOHO and SMB companies using wireless routers as a basic Wi-Fi solution. This segments constitute the majority of the demand for the Wi-Fi routers.

Wi-Fi adoption is still relatively slow among the end consumer segment, particularly in tier 2 and tier 3 cities of the country owing to high costs. What could be the possible solution to drive the demand in these regions?

We feel the lower penetration of Wi-Fi routers in smaller cities is more due to the poor quality of the connectivity provided by telecom companies and less due price challenges. Today a basic router comes at a price lesser than Rs 1000 which we believe is a very attractive price point for a large section of the population to get connected to the internet, as long as the connectivity speeds are reasonable .

Please share some numbers for the Indian Wi-Fi router market

We can only comment about the banded segments which in our estimate has sales of more than one lac routers every month. Netgear has a leadership position in the mid and the high end of the market.

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