The impending WiFi war

With WiFi hotspots likely to land several competitors in a spot, Dishnet Wireless expects to capitalise on its first mover advantage in WiMax — wireless broadband internet access. Venkatachari Jagannathan reports.

Chennai: From day after tomorrow, which also happens to be Tamil New Year, the privately-held Dishnet Wireless Limited, plans to aggressively offer wireless internet fidelity (WiFi) access and wireless microwave access (WiMax) services. In addition, the company will also offer enterprise solutions.

"We are planning an investment outlay of Rs250 crore over 18 months," says V G Suri, 42, vice president, sales and marketing, Dishnet Wireless.

The company is part of the C Sivasankaran-owned Rs850-crore Sterling Infotech group, with business interests in mobile telephony, wireless broadband access, food and beverages, telecom infrastructure consulting, online education, software and speciality restaurants.

The Sterling group was the first company in India to introduce digital subscriber line (DSL) technology for net access in the country through its Dishnet DSL Limited. After ramping up a subscriber base of 50,000 broadband and 1.5 lakh dial up internet access accounts and setting up internet cafes, the wire line internet business was sold to the Tata group''s Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) 2004 for Rs270 crore. The brand name ''Dishnet'', however, remained with Sterling.

Floating a new company, Dishnet Wireless Limited, the Sterling group announced its entry into the wireless internet access sector.