M. Dinesh Varma
Target of 2.4 lakh more subscribers by March 2008
CHENNAI: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited's broadband story in Chennai is a bitter-sweet one.
Since entering the broadband scene in 2005, BSNL has given 1.05 lakh connections across the city. This is besides the point-to-point leased circuit lines provided to around 2,000 corporate and other companies.
However, the broadband growth has led to saturation of its existing ports, and since January the State-run service provider has been forced to suspend issuing DataOne connections.
By a quirk, this is also the period when BSNL revised its broadband tariffs (January 1, 2007) and floated attractive deals for its customers.
The official word now is that BSNL Chennai Telephones will increase its broadband presence across the city with the acquisition of 20,000 extra ports by June. BSNL has set its sights on netting 2.4 lakh additional broadband subscribers by March 2008.
BSNL's DataOne deal reaches subscribers through DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) equipment installed in each of its 333 exchanges in the city. A DSLAM equipment can serve a radial distance of 3.5 km. BSNL is also providing broadband loops through its Digital Loop Carriers (DLCs) that serve as mini-exchanges.
With routers leading directly onto the National Internet Backbone (NIB-II), broadband connections function independent of the telephone exchanges.
The NIB involves a multi-gigabit, multi-protocol, convergent IP infrastructure that will provide voice, data and video services through the same backbone.
The broadband service is available on Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) technology, which uses the same copper cable that connects telephones to transport high-bandwidth data, such as multimedia and video.
BSNL plans shortly to enhance the broadband experience for its users with the introduction of `Multiply', a versatile broadband suite of data, voice and video-on-demand. Essentially, `Multiply' is an enhanced version of the existing broadband service.
"We are yet to work out the pricing," said M. P. Velusamy, Chief General Manager, Chennai Telephones.
Indications are that `Multiply', with its scheduled launch in a couple of months, will be more economical than the comparable services of the competition.
However, as it steps up its broadband penetration across the city, BSNL's broadband team could come under pressure to meet consumer expectations.
Already, quite a few broadband subscribers are not entirely satisfied with last-mile solutions offered by BSNL.
Muraleedharan, a resident of KK Nagar, has been facing connectivity problems for over a year now in spite of making repeated complaints.
One of the early birds to opt for DataOne when it was launched in Chennai, he started experiencing problems four to five months after the installation of broadband connection with the ADSL link lamp in the modem frequently going on the blink.
"Connectivity has become totally unpredictable. Technicians have corrected the fault umpteen times, only for the connectivity link to go off again," said the subscriber, whose latest petition awaits redress at the level of BSNL's general manager (broadband).