labels: dishnetdsl, e-business, it news
Dishnet''s ISP offeringsnews
09 April 1999

Baramati became the first rural district in the country to have its own Internet service provider. Dishnet Ltd., a Sterling Infotech group company, which embarked on an aggressive launch of its cut-price internet service in Pune recently, launched a similar service at Baramati, on 29 March. Chennai is slated next, on 14 April.

In keeping with its mission of "the world for every Indian", it has offered dial-up access at prices as low as Rs 10 per hour, with additional freebies in the form of a free CD with software worth Rs 8,000, free web hosting, etc. The service, branded ETH (Education To Home), took off in Pune with an "Early Bird Offer" of Rs 995 for 100 hours. The company attracted an enviable 3,000 subscribers within a week.

The Chennai campaign promises to be even more aggressive, priced at Rs 3,300 for five years, with an hour of Internet access everyday and Rs.10 for every hour thereof. This works out to an unbelievable price of Rs 1.80 per hour. For women, the same services are being offered at Rs 1,800, and for teachers in Chennai, the access is to be provided free.

Such manoeuvres run true to form for promoter C Sivasankaran, who is known for his penchant for cut- price marketing, which he first introduced in the 80’s with personal computers. (When the then ruling prices of PCs were around Rs 1,00,000, Sivasankaran made PCs available at around Rs 30,000).

The internet service prices that are being offered are the cheapest ever offered by the industry, with VSNL available at Rs 3000 for 100 hours (renewable at Rs 2400 for 100 hours) and MTNL offering the same at Rs 2500.

Dishnet Ltd. will be offering the entire spectrum of internet services, including internet access, e-mail, web hosting, e-commerce, interactive gaming, people to people interactions, audio and video conferencing, etc..All this will be made possible through Microsoft Commercial Internet Suite (MCIS 2.0). The company has also entered into strategic tie-ups with giants like Microsoft, CDAC, Compaq, Ericsson, CISCO, CheckPoint and Computer Associates, among others for the provision of these services.

Plans for the immediate future include convergence of satellite broadcasting and communication network with terrestrial telecom network.

The company has a grand plan to promote widespread use of internet, through a three-tier launch planned across the country. The first tier will cover, besides Pune and Chennai, the metro cities Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. This will be followed by 44 cities each with a population of over a million, in the second tier. The third tier would cover all the district towns in the country beginning with the impending launches at Nagpur, Amravati, Akola and Nashik in the next two months. As a result of this, the services will cover all of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu by the end of the year 1999.

As chairman, ETH Research Laboratory, and former director of the Centre for the Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Dr. Vijay Bhatkar says, the strategy is aimed at putting into action the belief that "intelligence, like all other gifts of nature, should be made available to one and all. Having recognised the vast reservoir of intelligence that the internet can provide, we want every Indian to be connected to it."

The company proposes to achieve its proliferation plans through its "Trusted Partnership Program", a network of IT business franchisees who will assist in selling and providing customer support services.

Apart from dial-up internet access, Dishnet will shortly introduce leased line access and ISDN services, the former for corporates and the latter for cyber cafes and other extensive internet users with high band width requirements.

Besides employing existing DoT network, Dishnet is also exploring other access technologies such as hybrid fibre and coaxial cable networks in a tie-up with Silicon Mountains of Pune. This technology is currently under test. When operational, it will make available multi-media services on the Internet, accessed through cable networks.

The Rs 400 crore investment in the project is being financed through equity of Rs 100 crore, debt of Rs 120 crore, and the rest to be funded through internal accruals, over a five-year period. Sterling Infotech, the holding company, has already invested Rs 20 crore on the infrastructure thus far, while a debt of Rs 62 crore has been extended by IFCI. The company is scouting for strategic partners, primarily large ISPs from the US or Europe, who would also bring in part of the equity.


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Dishnet''s ISP offerings