DishnetDSL Ltd, an enterprise of the Chennai (South India)-based Sterling Group of companies, has just launched its Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service in India, the first such service in the country for Internet access. Its first DSL site, already up at the Grand Paradi residential complex at Kemps Corner, a prime location in south Mumbai, was used as the example to showcase its new service.
This technology, says the company, has three big advantages over other remote access technologies such as analog modems or wireless solutions for Internet access: it is 140 times faster, it provides highly secure and 'always on' access over dedicated phone lines, and it eliminates telephone charges from the total cost of connecting to the Internet. The normal dial-up, where the user has to make a call to the ISP through telephone lines, includes a hidden cost of Rs 24 per hour of telephone charges. As opposed to this, the DSL technology allows a 24 hour access to the internet without the need to dial up to the ISP. In addition to these advantages, the
DSL subscriber can also access specialised content developed specifically for high-speed Internet connections at a fraction of the cost.
This is how DSL works: it is a broadband communication technology designed for use on regular telephone lines. It delivers high-speed data transmission, broadcast quality video, video conferencing, without interrupting normal telephone service. It enables simultaneous data communication over the phone line by splitting the line into two frequency ranges. Frequencies below 4kHz are reserved for voice, and the range above that is used for data
Infrastructurally, DishnetDSL's project site works with a network operations centre (NOC), which is connected via a leased line to its DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) control room from where the connections are distributed. DSLAM is a remote station connecting to a modem at the subscriber's end and at the other end, through the leased line, back to the MTNL telephone exchange. (MTNL is the basic services provider in the city of Mumbai)
"All we need from MTNL is a copper wire to link to homes," said S. Ravindran, , vice president, DSL marketing & implementation, DishnetDSL, at a press conference held in Mumbai on January 12, for the launch of the service. The modem, a really small unit compared to the analog modems currently in use in India, is being given away to its subscribers by the company at no extra cost.
DishnetDSL has the licence to offer nationwide Internet services for 10 years, starting December 23, 1998. It has already commenced its ISP services through its NOCs in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai. Its services are also available through its Point of Presence (PoP) at Coimbatore, Nagpur, Nasik, Baramati, Salem, Erode, Akola, Chingalpet, Pollachi and Mettupalayam. These PoPs are serviced by the nearest NOC. The company has permission to offer 128 MB bandwidth in its DSL services. It is targeting for 34 MB consumption in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.
At the press conference, Mr Ravindran, said, "DSL eliminates the frustration of using a traditional dial-up modem, enabling users to exploit the potential of the Internet to the fullest. For instance, BBC's news footage can be clearly viewed in real-time, even while you're downloading e-mails and running other PC applications."
DishnetDSL is targeting multi-dwelling home units as well as offices for its service, which offers speeds of upto 1.5 Mbps. Different grades of service will be offered depending on the home or office subscriber. The only thing is, to make its service economically viable for the company to set up the necessary infrastructure, clusters of subscribers will be required. "We are ideally looking for clusters of 96," said Mr Ravindran. However, Gaurav Asthana, general manager at DishnetDSL, clarified that for the company to
break even per site, 32 subscribers would be all right. Infrastructural cost per port, said Mr Ravindran, would be about Rs 30,000.
For unlimited access to the Internet to the upper limit of one GB per month, the subscriber charge is Rs 1,995 for the month. One-time set-up charges are Rs 29,970 for individual/home subscribers and Rs 49,950 for corporates, as the service requirements by both segments vary. The company's convinced that the charges are reasonable, at par with charges in the US, where DSL is in use. Other countries using DSL include several in Europe, Japan and
P.R. Eknath, the company's chief technology officer, said, "Video works exceptionally well on DSL, depending on the speed of your connection. Most movie trailers and high-bandwidth videos are designed for 80-128 Kbps speed. These are well within the capacity of DSL, which is up to 12 times faster than 128 Kbps."
Mr Ravindran added, "New millennium lifestyle calls for bandwidth. We are offering telecom standards reliability at 99.99 per cent." In order to tap the market for clusters, "we advertise, see responses from geographical locations and respond accordingly," he said. For DishnetDSL, the total project cost would be Rs 400 crore. To create the most advanced and scalable Infrastructure in India, it has tied up for technology support with Microsoft, Compaq, Dell, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, C-DAC, CheckPoint and Computer Associates.
The company is expecting a good response to its DSL services and over the next six months, expects to expand its presence to cover 52 cities across India.