Dishnet: Trying to live up to expectations

It queered the pitch for other Internet service providers (ISP) and mainly Satyam Infoway (Sify) selling dialup access at very attractive rates. The company also opened a chain of cyber cafes under the brand Dishnet Hub Centre and stocked them with 17-inch flat screen monitors. The company also hired a couple of expatriates at the top management level.

The company got $70-million funding from international investors like Century Tel, Inc, HSBC Private Equity Funds, Citicorp International Finance Corporation, IQ Investments and Covad Communications. A total of $350 million has gone into the venture till date.

But today all its ambitious plans are put on hold. According to an industry official, Dishnet, after ramping up a dialup subscriber base of 2 lakh in a quick time, lost the customer mind space. It also closed down some of its cyber cafes.

While officials are cagey about talking numbers and business strategies, the one service they are pinning their hopes on is broadband DSL, delivered to subscribers over a copper cable.

The company is the largest broadband ISP in the country, with a subscriber base of 25,000. According to them, the delivery of broadband efficiently to their subscribers and other services like dialup net access, virtual private network (VPN) has made them the largest bandwidth purchasers — 300 MB — in the country.

Dishnet officials say Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore are the major markets for the company. Nearly 14,000 Dishnet subscribers are from the three major southern cities.