Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Apr 21, 2002
Info-Tech - ISPs
Telephony: Netting a better deal
CONSUMER is king. For Indians, this worn out cliche has remained a derisive phrase and invariably generated much sarcasm. But for once, the telecom industry is poised to load the dice in favour of the consumer. Through a plethora of bold initiatives by the Government (in association with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the apex regulator for the telecom industry), several goodies are coming the way of the consumer. Some of these are:
Instead of focussing on these services whose effects are already visible to the consumer, Business Line attempts to focus on two new services Internet telephony which became legal in India from April 1, and limited mobility services using the Wireless-in-Local Loop platform given the final go-ahead by the Apellate Tribunal in mid-March this years. These two services are poised to significantly alter the scope and usage of telephony across the country:
There are three different types of Internet telephony services that can be offered to consumers, according to the government guidelines. Before launching into the different forms of Internet telephony, some pre-requisites need to be borne in mind (look at Table).
The three types of service are:
This is the most fundamental type of service. In this case, a consumer can make a phone call from a PC connected to the Internet in India, to another Internet-connected PC, say, in India or the US.
Obviously, both the PCs must be connected to the same or compatible software and must be switched on at the same time to be able to use this service. As long as consumers download the same software at both ends, this service is automatically available to anyone with an Internet connection. Except for the Internet service provider charges, there is no other cost. Hence, this service is suited more for the home environment than to cybercafes.
Actually, this is the kind of service sought to be widely exploited by ISPs in India. Sify and Data Access are among the early to offer this service. Quite a few national and regional ISPs are likely to follow suit soon. As the current regulations provide that this service can be offered only by Indian ISPs, these players are in the course of entering into tie-ups with foreign service providers, such as Dialpad, Net2Phone, Phonefree, to offer similar services to consumers in India, based on revenue sharing arrangements. These foreign players have already been offering competing services to Indian consumers that require payment in dollars using a credit card.
In stark contrast, the Indian ISPs are positioning themselves to provide the same offerings in rupees (though at a higher cost vis-à-vis players, such as dialpad or Net2Phone) along with, probably, higher levels of accountability to Indian consumers. The current Internet telephony regulations state that only calls directed abroad can be made from a PC in India. Calls within the country are banned to protect the revenue streams of the national long distance, or the STD, players.
Another model the ISPs are considering is to use their Web sites as portals, just like the present arrangement for Internet access. Sooner or latter, it is likely that Internet telephony will be bundled with dial-up Internet access packs and sold by ISPs through retail outlets.
IP based terminals for Telephone-to-Telephone
This is a highly sophisticated and expensive version of Internet telephony service that uses IP-enabled terminals on both the originating and terminating based on certain standards prescribed by telecommunication bodies, such as International Telecommunications Union.
The current guidelines prescribe that these can be used for both domestic and international calls. However, as they involve installation of expensive equipment upfront, they are probably not directly relevant to consumers, except the high networth individuals.
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2002, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line