Just ahead of the IPL, Reliance Jio Infocomm has intensified the tariff war in the telecom sector, announcing a new broadband “backup” plan at a monthly rate of ₹198 rupees for unlimited data at 10 Mbps, effectively slashing entry-level rates by half.

The plan, which also offers unlimited landline voice calls, is meant to be a backup connection to “help homes with unreliable broadband connection,” and “assured supply of data at an affordable price,” the company said,

Beating out rivals

Jio is promising always-on connectivity and uninterrupted streaming and this is strategic as it comes just before the commencement of the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League which starts on Friday, available free on the JioCinema app. The new broadband connectivity plan will be available from March 30, just one day before the start of the tournament.

Currently, the company offers a broadband plan starting at ₹399 a month with unlimited data at 30 Mbps speeds. Closest rival Bharti Airtel’s broadband plan starts at ₹499 with a speed of 40 Mbps.

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Jio’s new broadband plan has upgrade options to higher speeds with 1, 2, and 7-day options. For an additional ₹100-200 a month, subscribers to the plan can get live TV channels, OTT platforms and other gaming apps as well. The plan is available for a minimum of five months at ₹1,490, which includes ₹500 of installation charges.

Ramping up

Analysts said that the new broadband plan could facilitate the viewing experience of IPL in households with smart TVs and further ramp up penetration, beating out Disney Star which has the terrestrial rights for the tournament. Jio is already aggressively trying to capture viewers by allowing users to stream IPL for free.

Karan Taurani from Elara Capital, however, warns that penetration could still be limited on televisions because the number of smart TV households are still limited at the moment. “Connectivity notwithstanding, JioCinema will have to work on making its user experience comparable to Disney Star’s to make any headways in the TV market.”

Jio leads the pack amongst home broadband service providers with over 7 million subscribers closely followed by BSNL and Bharti Airtel.

However, experts believe that this new backup plan is not likely to eat too much into the subscriber base of competitors. While telcos such as Airtel do not have competing broadband plans, they usually service high-end subscribers who are ambivalent to the price wars for the most part. “Jio’s new broadband plan could eat into the subscriber base of regional internet service providers, who have unreliable broadband connections,” an expert said.