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.

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