Indian Private Players Plan Global Gateways
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Several private ISPs have announced plans to set up their own private gateways as soon as possible in order to eliminate dependence on Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) for back-end connectivity to Internet.
The move follows the government's recent decision to let private ISPs to set up their own international gateways. The DoT had announced guidelines for the private ISPs to apply for international gateways to provide Internet access directly or through other ISPs. Currently, VSNL has the monopoly in operating international gateways in the country.
Satyam Infoway said it would put up 10 gateways, and has completed the groundwork for setting up international gateways. The company is planning to float tenders to source equipment for its gateways shortly.
"So far, we were dependent on VSNL. Now, with our own set-up, we can offer a better service," said R.Ramraj, managing director, Satyam Infoway.
The cost of the project would be around $24 million, which Satyam will be raising through its forthcoming American Depository Receipts (ADR) issue. Satyam Infoway has already filed its ADR application.
Another option in front of Satyam is to install a cable-based network. This would mean installing a single gateway in Mumbai because the cable has a solitary landing point here and connects to a Trans-Atlantic cable which provides a direct connectivity to the US and Europe.
This option would mean a lower capital expenditure, but would involve high revenue expenditure, as Satyam would have to shop around for a lot more leased lines to offer the gateway benefits across all its centres.
On the other hand, Bharti BT Internet Private Ltd is opting for setting up two international gateways, which will enhance its Internet services in Delhi and Bangalore.
According to N. Arjun, Bharti BT's CEO, the company's objective was to start offering Internet services through its own international gateways by March 1 of next year. He said that the total cost of the project would be about $ 12 million.
"We still have to take a decision on the mode of financing," Arjun said. "What we want is to have a better control on the backbone in order to provide better service to the customers."
Like Satyam, BhartiBT, too, is combating with similar options for gateways. For its satellite connectivity, the company is planning to land its satellite signal somewhere in Europe to be carried to the US through an Trans-Atlantic cable.
The private ISPs are still awaiting the clear-cut modalities with regard to security clearances and investment norms. However, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is yet to come out with final guidelines for them.
According to sources, the delay is due to the furious lobbying by VSNL (with its over 80 Mbps bandwidth capacity for the operators) against such a provision, which is insisting that international leased circuits to the Internet should be routed through it.
BPL Net also has evinced interest in installing a gateway.