August 25, 1995: India's overseas communications monopoly, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL), will allow corporate users of its new Internet service to have their own domain names. Although individuals can pay $160 for 250 hours of use, institutions have to pay $300 to $800 for the same use, if they choose to connect through dial-up lines.
Amitabh Kumar, VSNL's Chief General Manager for Planning told The Indian Techonomist that corporate users will be able to register their own domain names - such as techonomist.com.in - through VSNL's name server, and will have multi-user accounts. The only previously announced distinction between institutional and individual dial-up accounts was that the former would only get shell access.
Although VSNL's service is a result of loopholes defining its monopoly - it is strictly speaking a "gateway" to the Internet outside India, and cannot provide connectivity within the country - it seems happy to encourage competition. This is not very surprising, as VSNL makes money anyway - the overseas communications link must be acquired from it, even by competing Internet providers.
Competing providers don't exist, thanks to government restrictions on datacom (see Bandwidth restraint) - but Mr Kumar said VSNL is "discussing [this] with the DoT," and would "prefer to work with Internet service providers while providing wholesale services to them." Mr Kumar adds that VSNL is prepared "to meet the requirements" of datacom after deregulation of restricted "value added services."
Meanwhile, the first week after the launch of VSNL services has gone reasonably well, with individual accounts growing the most rapidly. Service is available through the Department of Telecom's national X.25 network, I-NET, and through local calls from Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. VSNL claims it will connect Bangalore and Pune, two centres of much hi-tech activity, later this year. The excuse for this delay of some months is lame - apparently a lack of space to locate their servers.
A more likely reason is the nature of the loophole that lets them offer the service at all - their limited rights to provide last-leg connectivity for overseas traffic. GPSS, an old VSNL X.25 gateway, is also available only in India's four major cities.
For the pricing structure and more on VSNL, see here.
TECHONOMIST COPYRIGHT NOTICE AND SUBSCRIPTION
(C) Copyright 1995 Deus X Machina, Rishab Aiyer Ghosh. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
This article may be redistributed in electronic form only, provided that the article and this notice remain intact. This article may not under any circumstances be redistributed or resold in any non-electronic form, or for compensation of any kind, without prior written permission from Rishab Aiyer Ghosh (email@example.com)
This article is from the Indian Techonomist (http://dxm.org/techonomist/), the newsletter on India's information industry. Annual subscription (monthly print edition plus e-mail bulletins) is for US$ 595 or equivalent. For information, contact Rishab Ghosh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +91 11 2454717 or post to A4/204 Ekta Apts, 9 I.P. Extn, New Delhi 110017, INDIA.