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|November 14, 1997||
VSNL staggering under high porting costsThe Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited pays $25,000 per month per 2 MBPS link (total port charges) to international gateway providers in the US for access to the Internet.
On the other hand, US-based Internet service providers pay only $3,000 for the same connection.
Significantly, some of the potential Indian ISPs have been clamouring for a direct Internet connect clause to be added to the Internet policy currently
Such an arrangement would allow them to link up with the Internet in the US for $3,000 per month while VSNL would still be paying $25,000.
Translated into customer access charges, the US-based ISPs can literally steam-roll VSNL out of the Internet business if international gateway access is allowed when VSNL is being charged such exorbitant amounts for an Internet connection.
The public-sector company recently negotiated the total port charges payable to its international gateway providers in the US - MCI and Teleglobe. VSNL has been able to bring the total port charges to $25,000 from the $36,000 in 1995. But this is still about eight times higher than the port charges paid by other US ISPs.
The reason given by the international gateway providers for such extraordinarily high charges is that the traffic over the gateway link to India is very low.
Redressing this inequity may be outside the purview of the International Telecommunications Union but the Federal Communications Commission, the regulatory body in the US, may be approached for reparation.
VSNL, the country's first and, as yet, only commercial ISP, is all set to reduce its Internet connect charges by a third from Rs 15,000 for 500 hours for a TCP/IP account.
VSNL is awaiting the official "go-ahead'' from the ministry of communications for this. The proposed reduction is an effort to pass on the benefits to VSNL's customers. This will be the fourth time that VSNL has slashed its Internet connect rates since 1995 when it started offering Internet services.
- Compiled from the Indian media
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