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BSNL revives plan to lease bandwidth — Becomes country's largest ISP

G. Rambabu

New Delhi , Dec. 10

HAVING become the largest Internet service provider (ISP) in the country with over eight lakh subscribers, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd now plans to consolidate its position by aggressively pursuing its existing landline subscribers and has revived plans to augment its bandwidth capacity from international gateways to the US.

According to official sources, the company has overtaken Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Sify and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd to capture 21 per cent of the ISP market and plans are afoot to build up on this base. With a majority of its subscribers availing themselves of its post-paid caller line identification dial-up services, whereby the landline customers have to dial a specified number to surf the Net and get billed at the end of the month in their telephone bills, BSNL is now planning to make this facility available across the country, they said.

At present subscribers in only 31 cities can dial `172222' and log on to the Net directly. They are charged only 10 paise per minute over and above the telephone call rates, an attractive scheme that has led to the zoom in its Internet subscriber base. To cover the entire country, however, it would require more bandwidth capacity. The company already has a large Internet backbone covering the entire country and has Points of Presence in more than 450 cities.

In this context, the sources pointed out that BSNL's earlier proposal to lease additional international bandwidth, which was shelved close to six months ago, is now being revived. The proposal has been put on the priority list, and the company has floated a global tender seeking fibre capacity between landing stations in the country and Internet backbone of Tier-I ISP in the US by December 17.

The company had in April issued a global tender notice stating: "To support its Internet operations, BSNL immediately requires one STM1 fibre capacity between cable landing stations in India and Internet backbone of Tier-1 ISP in the US. BSNL may require another STM1 fibre capacity of identical nature by after six months. It may further require a third STM1 fibre capacity of identical nature after a lapse of another 6-8 months from commissioning of the second STM1."

After postponing the tender once, the company finally decided to cancel it.

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