Source: ET Bureau
As India Inc increasingly works from home to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for WiFi equipment has more than doubled in the last two weeks leading to a supply crunch, with even the rental ecosystem for devices becoming a hit.
“The market dynamics has completely changed as we are unable to provide for the 60% surge in demand for new connections and devices,” said Neetu Chowdhary, Director of network solution provider Esprim Systems.
Wifi dongles are being sold at Rs 100-250 premium while requests for new home broadband connections have increased by 40%, a Delhi-based retailer said. “Stocks of popular wireless equipments such as JioFi 4G, Tenda, Asus and Netgear are nearing end and at this momentum, companies might hike prices soon,” he added.
Companies did not respond to ET’s query on price hikes. Telecom operators Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel said that they have not hiked prices of their dongles and 4G hotspots but offline retailers in smaller pockets might be selling at a premium at their own discretion. Not just that, innovative retailers are even renting out dongles. “Due to uncertainty around when employees will get back to work, people are inclining towards renting a dongle,” said Rashmi Mittal, a store owner in Delhi. “We are offering a JioFi 4G hotspot along with a SIM card and unlimited data at Rs 50 per day and Rs 1400 per month,” she added.
India has 19 million fixed line broadband users which include enterprises and offices and 17 million home fixed line broadband users. On the other hand, there are over 640 million mobile broadband users accessing it through a 4G smartphone/dongle and other such devices, according to data from research firm TechArc.
Consequently, there has been a sharp increase in SIM card requests which people are using for Wifi dongles, added retailers. A pan-India broadband provider who did not wish to be identified said that it will hike monthly bills of its high-speed plans for its existing users in tier-1 and tier-2 cities, depending on usage.