RailWire, the wired service from Indian Railways’ RailTel Corp, has announced a set of new plans offering more data for lower monthly subscription amounts. The move comes less than a month after BSNL introduced new plans in the low-tariff category.
The highlight of the new RailWire plans is the new 50 Mbps, which is priced at just Rs 499 plus tax. This is one of the cheapest fiber broadband plans in India.
For comparison, BSNL charges Rs 599 plus tax for its 60 Mbps plan. The operator does not have a 50 Mbps offering. The new plan is also cheaper than Jio’s 100 Mbps plan, which costs Rs 699 plus tax. Jio too does not offer a 50 or 60 Mbps plan.
Both BSNL and JIo, however, continue to be more competitive than RailWire in the 30 Mbps segment, with plans costing 100 rupees less compared to RailTel’s new 50 Mbps plan.
Nevertheless, in the 50-60 Mbps category, RailWire has become the cheapest pan-India fiber broadband player. Its closest competitor is Airtel Broadband, which also offers a 499 plan at 40 Mbps speed.
That said, RailWire’s plan has one key drawback: It is not suitable for ultra heavy users who consume more than 50 GB/day, since it’s got a fair usage cap of 1,500 GB/month.
However, most broadband users India consume only 5-15 GB/day, and only the top 2-3% of residential broadband users likely consume than 1,500 GB/month. Moreover, RailWire offers data carry over on most of its plans too.
In addition to the Rs 499, 50-Mbps pack, Railwire also launched several new plans.
The next notable new pack is the Rs 799 scheme that offers 3,300 GB of monthly data at a speed of 100 Mbps.
In this segment, RailWire is beaten by Jio and Airtel. Jio, as mentioned already, has a 100 Mbps unlimited pack at Rs 699, while Airtel’s 100 Mbps scheme is also priced at Rs 799 like RailWire.
However, unlike RailWire, Airtel Broadband does not mention any FUP on its tariff card. BSNL too offers an unlimited 100 Mbps plan at the same price of Rs 799.
It should, however, be noted that only Airtel Broadband offers free app subscriptions at this price point, while Jio, BSNL and RailWire do not.
Airtel offers free access to its Airtel Xstream content streaming service as part of its broadband plans.
However, such comparisons are moot for most RailWire users, as none of the others — except BSNL — can beat the Indian Railways subsidiary in terms of reach and penetration. For most RailTel users, other operators’ plans are meaningless as they are simply not available in their towns.
For example, Airtel’s service is available only in around 200 towns, while Jio’s current footprint is also likely to be comparable to that.
Compared to that,, RailWire has already laid fiber to around 5000 towns and cities in India as part of an earlier scheme to Wifi-enable 6,000-plus railway stations in the country, including those in extremely remote and rural towns.
RailTel recently announced that it would now rapidly extend these points-of-presence inside railway stations to nearby areas by aggressively tying up with local cable operators who act as the company’s last-mile agents.
As such, any price reduction by RailWire has the potential to make many more customers happy than is the case with city-focused players, where competition has already reduced prices to rock-bottom levels.
Before the latest announcement of new plans, RailWire’s 100 Mbps plan used to cost Rs 999 plus tax, compared to Rs 799 plus tax under the new tariff scheme.
Similarly, before the latest price-cut, RailWire was offering an unlimited 20 Mbps connection at Rs 599, while it now offers a 50 Mbps connection at Rs 499 with an FUP of 1,500 GB.
It should be noted that RailWire typically rolls out its new plans circle by circle, and these may not be available in all circles at present.