Chennai: Hathway Cable and Datacom, a leading Indian cable services (TV and the Internet) company, has joined hands with two Tata group companies to share their optic-fibre cable network. Hathway Cable will use around 200 kms of Tata Power's fibre-optic backbone in Mumbai; in Hyderabad the Internet service provider will use Tata Teleservices' network.

"The tie-up enables us to expand our operations in cities where we have rolled out our Internet services, while saving heavy investments," says Hathway Cable general manager (technical) A Krishnan.

In addition, the Tatas' cable infrastructure is expected to improve the quality of Hathway Cable's television signals and also roll out value-added services. With Internet telephony permitted by the government, Hathway Cable, it is learnt, is soon to launch the same.

The company, which started its operations in Mumbai in April 2000, today offers net-over-cable in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and Pune. Hathway Cable head (sales, marketing and customer services, south India) Karthik Bhaskaran says: "In the south, Hyderabad and Bangalore are the growth markets; Chennai is stable, logging a steady growth in subscriptions."

Entering the Hyderabad market in May 2002, Hathway Cable has enlisted around 200 subscriptions till now. "This is a good number by industry standards. We are confident of adding another 2,300 subscribers during this fiscal," says Bhaskaran. Similarly he hopes to double the subscriber-base in Bangalore from the current 1,200.

About the Chennai market he says the company experienced a sudden spurt in subscriptions after the rationalisation of rates — modem and subscriptions. "We enrolled a good number of subscribers under our night bird scheme. Many of our night bird subscribers are now graduating to other 24-hour schemes."

The continued reduction in modem prices was also another factor. "Today we sell modems for Rs 7,800. We also have attractive hire-purchase schemes," Bhaskaran says. In all the three southern markets, Hathway Cable is consciously focussing its marketing efforts in residential areas. "We unveil our services in those areas where we own primary points," he adds.

About the company's presence in the cyber café segment, where Satyam Infoway with its wireless connectivity is becoming a major force to reckon with, Bhaskaran says: "We haven't lost any café in the last one-and-a-half years. On the contrary, we have been adding more to our client list. Small cyber café players come to us, but we don't invest in cafés like others."