RealTime IT News

VSNL, MTNL Heat Up Indian ISP Tariff War

As summer advances in India, the ISP price war is heating up.

In response to the new Internet Service Provider (ISP) Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited's (MTNL) introductory tariff, pegged at 15 percent lower rates, the ISP monolith Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) reduced its tariff by 20 percent.

The new tariff structure is expected to help VSNL retain its 200,000 strong subscriber base.

The VSNL board has already approved the new tariff structure, which is on the subscription charges for all categories of TCP/IP accounts.

The board sought and received the Department of Telecommunication's (DoT) approval to implement the new tariff and has already passed on the benefit to their subscribers.

For an account of 100 hours' duration, the previous charge was Rs 3,000 (US$70.17). This dropped to Rs 2,400 (US$56.14). A 250-hour account, which earlier cost Rs 6,500 ($ 152.04 ), dropped to Rs 5,200 (US$121.63) on renewal, while a 500-hour account previously rated at Rs 10,000 (US$233.91) slid to Rs 8,000 (US$87.13).

"The renewal discount is a step towards our commitment of providing cost effective and high quality Internet services to our customers," said VSNL's acting chairman and managing director Amitabh Kumar.

VSNL customers already enjoy a range of facilities which includes short e-mail IDs, free homepages, India-wide roaming and 24-hour help desk facilities.

Officials point out that VSNL's network is unique in providing digital connectivity directly from remote exchanges to enable customers to obtain high quality and high speed Internet access connections.

Senior officials pointed out that the renewal discount scheme is not available in conjunction with other schemes such as Flexi Hour accounts, nor for Shell accounts and student accounts. According to senior general manager G.C. Banik, VSNL's Flexi Hour allows customers to sign up for a low duration account. For example, these users can choose a 100-hour period and extend the same on expiry of the duration (within the year) to a 250-hour or a 500-hour account by paying the difference in subscription charges.

VSNL's Internet services are available from Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Pune and Bangalore.

The state-owned juggernaut has a network of over 200,000 Internet customers and 400 Internet leased lines and provides to the biggest customer group in India.

VSNL's existing customers will also benefit from new services to be launched, including e-mail-to-paging and e-commerce applications.

With the entire Internet system set for relaunch on a world class platform, users would enjoy the benefits of online renewals and other automated facilities, sources added.

Meanwhile, MTNL top brass also reportedly plan to further reduce the tariff during the second phase of the project, which is scheduled to begin within the next six months.