OTHERS

VSNL project to improve internet connectivity

NEW DELHI, JULY 12. Alarmed at the increasingly hostile stand of the IT industry over bottlenecks in bandwidth availability, the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) today announced the launch of an ambitious project to correct poor internet connectivity and reliability.

With no friends and an exasperated internet-user community, especially south of the Vindhyas, the VSNL has assured that bandwidth on demand will be available by October. The intervening period will be used to clear all pending applications for leased lines ``through an intensive drive operated in cooperation with the Telecom Department''.

Essentially, the VSNL will reverse its procedure of purchasing bandwidth. Instead of buying bandwidth from international satellite and sea cable companies after applications are submitted by them - a move which means that there is a waiting period - it now intends to follow ``optimistic forecasting techniques'' to make capacity available ahead of demand.

The IT industry - mainly internet service providers (ISPs) and more recently e-com companies - points out that international capacity is being built at breakneck speed and it should be allowed to reap the benefits of low prices by being permitted to purchase bandwidth directly, without having to go through the VSNL. It has also pointed out that there is tremendous disparity between national and international bandwidths resulting in poor internet speed.

In a not-too-subtle reply to the IT industry, which announced an ``Operation Bandwidth'', the VSNL project also bears the same name. Under this initiative, it will not only acquire international capacity for leased lines well ahead of demand but also cooperate with the Department of Telecom Services (DTS) to provide it to users within a time-frame. The process has begun and 510 mbps of additional capacity will be available over the next three months. A committee, comprising representatives from the VSNL, the MTNL and the DTS, has been set up to guard against snags in availability of inter-city bandwidth between the VSNL gateways and also to ensure proper linkages to the customers.

The occasion also provided the VSNL an opportunity to list its limitations. Ever since prices of leased circuits were slashed by 40 to 50 per cent, it has had to cope with a 200 per cent jump in demand for internet capacity as the number of ISPs grew by over 200 per cent. Hopefully, the change in purchase procedure, coupled with attempts by the DTS to provide adequate bandwidth on all routes, will make internet usage less aggravating.