Netflix is in India, but Cheap Bandwidth Isn’t

Rs 650 per month is nice, but wait: a single HD movie could cost you Rs 150 to 400 for the bandwidth

 
Netflix is in India, but Cheap Bandwidth Isn’t

Netflix went global at CES2016 yesterday, launching in 130 countries—including India. Yes, for Rs 650 a month (Rs 500 if you’re okay with standard definition), you can watch unlimited Western and Indian movies and TV shows. Well, from the somewhat limited selection at present, but that will grow.

That sounds really good (on Apple TV, I’d pay anywhere between Rs 300 and Rs 600 to buy a movie from iTunes, and upward of Rs 150 to ‘rent’ it for 24 hours). 

And so I spend the day watching movies and TV shows on Netflex via my Apple TV (a great way to do it), on the free trial month.

There IS a caveat, though bandwidth cost.

What does it really cost to watch movies on Netflix? According to the company, watching their HD stream takes up 3 GB an hour, so assuming 2.5 hours for the average movie, that’s 7.5 GB a pop.

A three-hour HD movie (9GB) can cost you anywhere from Rs 150 to Rs 430 on Airtel alone. Why this huge variation?

Because the question is: what does one GB cost you? Well, that varies totally between operator and between tariff plans. Take Airtel: its 4 Mbps, 5GB cap Rs 899 plan is about Rs 140 per GB, keeping aside Rs 199 for voice.

But 4 Mbps isn’t good enough for HD, so let’s go to the 16 Mbps Airtel plans.

Airtel’s Rs 1,399 plan gives you 25 GB, or about Rs 48 per GB, again keeping aside Rs 199 for voice. A Rs 1899 plan for 80 GB is about Rs 21 per GB. A Rs 2,000 plan for 120 GB is Rs 17 a GB.

Netflix is probably still worth it, but you have to think of it as a monthly subscription (Rs 650) plus Rs 150 to Rs 400 a movie, depending on your plan. And move to a better plan.

So if you DO plan to stick on with Netflix after the free trial month, to make sure you have at least a 16 Mbps connection with a high-data cap plan which is cheaper per GB.

Or go for a cheaper ISP. BSNL, for instance. Or Spectranet, which has just launched its Rs 1199 residential plan for a 100 MBps unlimited (symmetric) fiber connection in Gurgaon.

Other ISPs in Bangalore and elsewhere have similar-price plans—they may be lower bandwidth, but that doesn’t matter: a good 16 Mbps connection and you’re home and dry.

Prasanto K Roy (twitter: @prasanto) is Head, Trivone Media, and chief editor, TechTree


Tags : Netflix, Airtel, Bandwidth, India, #netflixinindia, Spectranet