Encounter in cyberspace

As you walk into N Srinath's spacious, yet sparsely furnished, office, what catches your eye is a certificate proudly displayed on the soft board above his desk. It is a certificate given to him by the employees of the network division of the company, conferring on him the Slave Driver of the Year award! The unbridled enthusiasm that pervades the office makes one feel that the title is, perhaps, out of place. But, for a person who drives himself hard, this award, perhaps, encapsulates the spirit of the man behind the early-March 2001 launch of TataNova, the Internet services from the House of Tatas. The launch represents a significant step in the Group's endeavour to be a leader in providing Internet related services to consumers and businesses.

N. Srinath, the dynamic Tata-veteran of 15 years, brings to bear years of solid project management experience in the field of high technology to his current assignment as chief executive officer of Tata Internet Services Limited, a 'Class A' Internet Service provider.

In the midst of the a product roll-out, Mr. Srinath took some time off to talk about his plans and strategies for making Tata Internet the most preferred brand for consumer and corporate Internet access services. Excerpts from the hour-long interview:

On the access service business

It is true that stand-alone Internet access service business by itself is not a paying proposition. World over Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have successfully modelled their business around revenue sharing with telecom companies. For instance, for every hour that a consumer surfs on the net, only Rs. 6 goes to the ISP with the balance going to the telecom company.

Outside India, telecom companies realise the fact that ISPs' generate traffic for them and they are more than willing to enter into revenue sharing agreements with the ISPs'. The fact that most of the basic telephony services across the world is in private hands helps. In India this revenue sharing model will take some time to come in. At the moment, it is difficult to convince the state-owned telecom companies to part with a portion of their revenues to the ISPs' even if the latter generate a lot of traffic for them. But I am sure, with time, they will see reason and start sharing revenue with the ISPs as is happening elsewhere in the world.