the growing realisation about using cable TV to access
the Internet, more companies are trying to venture into
this field. They include the Hindujas'' IndusInd group,
and the Rajan Raheja group''s Hathway Investments, which
has been expanding its media operations mainly through
Distribution, the Hindujas'' Mumbai-based company, has
drawn up plans for a Rs 200-crore internet-on-cable television
project. The company will start its operations in 2000,
and expects to have 50,000 subscribers by April 2001. IndusInd Media
Communications, another group company belonging to the
Hindujas, with over a million subscribers, currently occupies
the top slot among cable TV operators in Mumbai.
Hathway Cable & Datacom,
a cable TV services company, also plans to introduce internet
through its cable services in Mumbai shortly. It has leased
256 kbps, or kilo bits per second, of bandwidth from Videsh
Sanchar Nigam Ltd. The company has set up a hub at Nariman
Point in the city and is testing its services
with companies like PriceWaterhouseCoopers,
Air-India, Oberoi Hotels and Booz Allen & Hamilton.
Accessing the Internet through
the cable network could explode the size of the Internet
market in India. Among the advantages claimed by cable
access providers is speedier access to the Internet and
To avail of this facility,
a cable customer must buy a cable modem and a channel
splitter. The customer will have to pay only a fixed rent
per month to the cable company providing the Internet
connection. With a telephone dial-up connection, the customer
has to pay per-minute charges to Mahanagar Telephone Nigam
are betting that people will prefer cable access to the
Internet because they can avoid the cost of a computer.
One hitch: the prohibitive price of cable modems, which
is around Rs.20,000 at present. The companies are hoping
that this price will drop soon with volumes.
Unofficial statistics reveal
that around 25 per cent of Internet users in India
visit cyber cafes to browse the net. They would probably
begin accessing the Internet through their TVs at home.