Chennai: Cable Internet service provider (ISP) Hathway Cable and Datacom, Mumbai, is targetting apartment complexes and hotels for deeper market penetration in Chennai and Bangalore.
The company has already wired two mega apartment complexes - one each in the above cities - built by the Rahejas. The company is also talking with other builders to offer Internet-ready apartments wherein a buyer can plug and browse immediately on occupying a flat.
The tariff for such customers works out very cheap as the purchase of a cable modem costing Rs 9,000, or renting the same, is dispensed with and, unlike individual connections, the downloads are unlimited.
"This is facilitated by installing a router at an apartment complex and dropping Cat5 cables into individual flats," says Karthik Bhaskaran, who heads the company's sales, marketing and customer services. For the ISP, the investment will be on a router (costing Rs 35,000), trunk cable (Rs 110/metre) and Cat5 cable.
Speaking of the speeds, Bhaskaran says it depends on what the apartment association specifies. "But it wouldn't be less than 64 kbps. We are targetting to push 128 kbps for apartment complexes." The other attraction that the ISP offers to apartment associations is its participation in community activities. A certain percentage of the monthly subscription is paid to the association to use on special occasions or even for the maintenance of the complex.
In Bangalore, Hathway Cable is wiring hotel rooms. The ISP has concluded a deal with the Taj there and is talking to other star hotels in the Garden City. But the hotel business is linked to cable TV connections, as hotels do not like too many cables coming into their premises on aesthetics grounds. Hathway Cable, which is also into cable TV business, is leveraging its dual service offers to gain entry into Bangalore hotels.
But the same is not possible in Chennai. The company has signed a non-compete agreement with Sumangali Cable Vision (SCV), whereby both the multiple service operators have divided the city among themselves. And most of the star hotels are located in the SCV area.
About individual subscribers, Bhaskaran says the 'Night Bird' scheme - net access only between 8 pm to 8 am on weekdays and 24 hours on Sundays - has won over several dial-up users. The ISP offers two schemes for Rs 750 and Rs 500 per month. "Once hooked on to a broadband connection, many Night Bird subscribers upgrade to a normal connection."
Bhaskaran says his company is also expanding is operations in Chennai and Bangalore. In Chennai the ISP will be offering its services at Anna Salai, a commercial area, and two upmarket residential areas - Kilpauk and Arumbakkam.
The company is planning to wire their massive commercial complex in Anna Salai. "We will cover 1,000-odd offices there," he says. In Chennai Hathway Cable has around 1,200 subscribers, consisting mostly residential users and cyber cafes.
Similarly, in Bangalore the company will start operations at MG Road, parts of Koramangala, Basavangudi and Fraser Town. In three months of operations in the city, the ISP has roped in around 500 subscribers and hopes to ramp it up to 1,200 in three months' time.
Curiously, Bangalore is a tough market as there are around 32 ISPs, which includes eight cable players. To compete effectively, the ISP has shored up its customer services cell. "We are inculcating the concept of accountability to subscribers in our service personnel," says Bhaskaran.
Internally the company has laid down a policy of rectifying network-related subscriber complaints within four hours. "If a complaint registered with the complaint cell is not sorted out within four hours, then the same is brought to the notice of the customer services manager and if it still remains unattended for eight hours, it would come to my notice," says Bhaskaran.
The call-centre closes a complaint only after checking with the subscriber whether the problem was sorted out to his satisfaction. The other cities where Hathway Cable offers the net over cable services are Mumbai, Pune and Delhi.