VSNL Revamps Internet Service

Anticipating more competition from private Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL), India’s first ISP, is revamping its Internet access and providing new services, including a
common mail server.

VSNL is optimizing its spending and floating tie-ups with major international carriers.

“These steps would cut our spending on international bandwidth by 30 to 40 percent,” said Amitabh Kumar, VSNL’s director of operations and its officiating CMD.

First on the cards is a “peering” agreement with Internet exchange node operators to cut spending on international bandwidth.

VSNL is working out deals with a major U.S. ISP and exchange node operators so that it “effectively pays nothing for some of our international links,” Kumar said.

“Peering” essentially means that partners in such agreements share the burden for data traffic to their respective regions from those
controlled by other partners in the deal.

According to the ISP’s analysis of bandwidth usage patterns, incoming traffic (downloading) constitutes more than five times of the usage than outgoing traffic (uploading). To cut costs, VSNL will buy international bandwidth asymmetrically — more bandwidth for downloads, less for uploads.

VSNL is also gradually reconfiguring its network so that subscribers can access proxy servers which would mirror data on popular Web sites. This would significantly increase throughput, since subscribers would first be taken to these mirror sites when they request access to popular sites.

If the data requested is not available on the mirror site, it would be transmitted from the original server. VSNL plans to mirror some of the more popular Web sites, including search engines.

The proxy configuration will also act as a firewall, greatly enhancing security.

Also in the works is a common mail server for all of VSNL’s nodes in the country, which would allow simple, short .com e-mail addresses for all VSNL’s subscribers.

To increase ease of use, VSNL is working out an arrangement with Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) wherein subscribers in each city would have one hunting number each for shell (text only) and TCP/IP (text and multimedia) accounts.

Internet traffic would be segregated from voice calls, so that lines do not get congested, leading to more stable connections for surfers.

VSNL, in tandem with MTNL, will also set up specialized proxy exchanges from which Internet subscribers calls will reach VSNL’s
servers in 2 mbps streams.

This design is now being implemented in Mumbai and should be ready in about a month and a half, Kumar said. VSNL would start setting up these links gradually to cover the entire city. Other cities would follow suit.

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