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February 27, 1998


VSNL in talks for bulk Internet account deals

Email this story to a friend. In the two deals that could result in a 40 per cent jump in the number of Internet subscribers in the country, NIIT Limited and the Indira Gandhi National Open University have kicked off negotiations with the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited for 'jumbo' Internet access.

The country's international telecom carrier is also adding to the number of
The Squeal Deal
VSNL's 'jumbo' talks
Satellite phone policy
Network Associates
telephone access lines to its Delhi and Bombay servers.

It has asked for 500 more telephone lines in Delhi (above the current 700 lines) and 700 more lines (above the current 800) in Bombay.

Software developer NIIT has requested VSNL - the Internet access provider in Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore, Calcutta, Madras and Ahmedabad - for 20,000 accounts, a VSNL official said. IGNOU has requested between 10,000 and 15,000 accounts.

Both NIIT and IGNOU are discussing bulk discounts before sealing the jumbo deals.

The number of Internet subscribers in the country has already shot up 25 per cent after the introduction of new tariffs on January 1 this year.

The number of Internet accounts - served by access services of VSNL and department of telecommunications - has jumped from some 60,000 to about 80,000 since the beginning of the year.

Under instructions from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, both Internet service providers have reduced charges for a TCP/IP account from Rs 15,000 to Rs 10,000 for 500 hours of usage as of January 1.

VSNL is upgrading its service with a view to capture a major chunk of the Internet access market in the six cities it is licensed in. It has projected the number of subscribers on its Internet service to jump almost three times in 1998-99 from the current 70,000.

VSNL Chairman and Managing Director B K Syngal has said "We expect to end 1998-99 with 200,000 subscribers. We plan to increase quality by installing routers in MTNL exchanges in Bombay and Delhi which will reduce outages."

Currently, routers - equipment which routes Internet traffic to various data backbones and Net access points - are installed at VSNL Earth station premises away from telephone exchanges of MTNL and DoT, thereby increasing attenuation.

DoT operates Internet servers in seven cities, a number, which it intends to take up to 20 cities. The number of Internet subscribers - the bulk being accounted from Pune, Hyderabad and Chandigarh - on DoT's Internet service is pegged at a little more than 10,000.

Besides 80,000 VSNL and DoT Internet subscribers, the department of electronics-run ERNET and NICNET under the Planning Commission (both closed user groups) are estimated to account for over 40,000 users.

The Union government, which unveiled a "promotional Internet policy" last October, allowing entry of private ISPs, wants the number of Internet users in the country to increase multifold to 1.5-2 million users by 2000.

This target, however, is unlikely to be achieved after the expected delays in private ISP entry after last Tuesday's TRAI order that ruled the Internet policy invalid.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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