India Beefs Up Financial Network System

The Reserve Bank of India‘s Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) is spending US$1.25 million to build a new terrestrial network to complement an existing VSAT network for its Indian Financial Network (INFINET) system.

Since June 1999, INFINET has served as the communication backbone of India’s banking and financial sector; it is a closed user group network used by financial institutions, cooperatives, and the public and private sectors. Owned and maintained by IDRBT, the system handles transactions and settlements worth thousands of Crores on a daily basis.

The TCP/IP-based INFINET uses a blend of communication technologies such as VSATs and terrestrial leased lines. Presently, the network consists of more than 689 VSATs located in 127 cities in India, and utilizes one full transponder on INSAT 3B.

IDRBT’s new terrestrial network, which is expected to take two months to complete, will cover the breadth of India and seamlessly connect 21 major Indian cities via a leased-line network.

The leased-line network will provide gateways to the member banks for inter-bank applications such as simple messaging, delivery vs payment, and centralized-fund querying for government, banks and financial institutions.

“The new terrestrial network links will provide us higher bandwidth speeds from 2MB to upwards of 34MB, and will be integrated with our existing VSAT network,” said IDRBT director V.P. Gulati.

“More importantly, the terrestrial WAN network will be easy to migrate to Ethernet speeds in the future. Cisco is the recognized leader in networking and is therefore our technology provider of choice.”

To set up the terrestrial network, Cisco Systems will supply high-end routers, switches, security systems, network management software.

Cisco 7500 series routers will form the core of this network, which will interconnect various cities in India. Cisco 3600 series routers will make up the distribution level, where all the bank branches would aggregate to ride on the core network.

Bank branches will use Cisco 2600/3600 routers depending on their requirements. Cisco catalyst switches will be supplied to various branches to connect office equipment within the branches.

Cisco’s PIX firewall security solution will be deployed at the distribution centers to handle the stringent banking security requirements. And overall network management will be handled by IDRBT’s Hyderabad-based hub, running Cisco’s routed WAN network management solution.

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