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  • 1. %Bizness & Read on ................................... Internet Service Providers: Much more than mere communications providers - KenSource telephone system was totally As a medium of communication, the Internet has a relatively new history. inadequate for the job. But its influence has been astounding. What is the scene in India? What are Roberts developed his plan for the problems facing the sector? To know more, read on… the “ARPANET” in 1966. He presented his paper at a conference + Sputnik by Russia in 1957. in 1967. Also at this conference was ontinuing our series Responding to this perceived a paper by Donald Davies and on the Indian insult, the US formed the telecom industry, Advanced Research Projects this month we take Agency (ARPA) within its you one of the most Department of Defense. It was in amazing inventions of mankind - the early 1960’s that J. C. R. the Internet. As a medium of Licklider, the first head of the communication, the Internet has computer research programme at come to occupy the most important ARPA discussed his vision of a Roger Scantlebury of NPL place in the entire gamut of globally interconnected set of (National Physical Laboratory of facilities available today. Infact, it computers through which the UK) on a packet network far surpasses its utility of being just everyone could quickly access data concept. They told Roberts about a communication medium and has and programmes from any site. their work and that of Paul Baran become the backbone of economic Earlier, in 1961, Leonard Kleinrock, of RAND, who had written a paper and business development across of MIT, published the first paper in 1964 for the military on packet the world. But first let’s take a brief on packet switching technology. switching technology for secure look at how the Internet evolved. Using packets rather than circuits voice. It turns out that these three was a major step in the studies had been going on at the The origin of the World development of computer same time without the researchers Wide Web networks. even knowing about the other’s A major part of the literature on In 1965, Lawrence Roberts of work. The word “packet” was Internet focuses around MIT and Thomas Merrill directly adopted from the work at NPL and computing. The larger picture, linked (without packet switching) the proposed line speed to be used however, is far more spectacular. the TX-2 computer at MIT Lincoln in the ARPANET design was 50 It is certainly true that the Internet Lab in Massachusetts and the Q- kbps. is an evolution in the computer 32 at System Development In 1968, Bolt Beranek and science field, but it is equally a Corporation in Santa Monica, Newman (BBN) were awarded the major development in the field of California with a dedicated 1200 contract to develop the packet telecommunications – an evolution bps phone line, creating the first switches called Interface Message of the mass media. Each one of us wide area network. The result of Processors (IMPs). The first IMP probably knows when and where this experiment was the realisation was installed at UCLA in 1969, the television or the telephone was that the time-shared computers thus becoming the first node on the invented, but what about the could work well together, running ARPANET. Three other nodes Internet? What is the origin of the programmes and retrieving data as were added later that year: the World Wide Web (WWW)? Well, necessary on the remote machine, Stanford Research Institute, the it all began with the launch of the but that the circuit switched University of California at Santa
  • 2. % Bizness & Read on ................................... Barbara, and the University of Utah. By the end of 1969, four nodes were connected to the ARPANET, and the fledgling Internet was up and running. Computers were added quickly during the following years and the first Host-to-Host protocol, called Network Control Protocol, was finished in 1970. This would later be replaced by the TCP/IP protocol in 1983, which we still use today. The first public demonstration of the ARPANET occurred at the International Computer Communication Conference (ICCC) in 1972 by Bob Kahn. It was was under the complete control of Presently, there are around 390 also in 1972 that email was born. the government with the state license holders with 64 of them in Ray Tomlinson of BBN wrote the owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Category A, 135 in Category B and basic e-mail, motivated by Limited (VSNL) first launching the balance in Category C. Of these ARPANET developers for easy Internet services in August 1995. around 189 licensees have communication. The @ sign was For the first 4 years, VSNL was the commenced their operations. chosen from the punctuation keys sole provider of Internet services The growth of the Internet in the on Tomlinson’s Model 33 Teletype in the country. Its monopoly country stems from the New for it’s “at” meaning. Later that ended in November 1998 when the Telecom Policy (NTP) of 1999 year, Roberts expanded this utility government allowed private which stipulated targets in terms by writing the first e-mail operators to provide Internet of establishing Telecom Network programme to list, selectively read, services. with a view to achieve a tele- file, forward, and respond to density of around seven per 100 by messages. The first computer-to- Indian Scenario the end of 2005 and 15 per 100 by computer chat also took place in the end of the next five years, i.e., Formerly, the Department of 1972 at UCLA, and was repeated by 2010. The NTP also stipulated Telecommunications (DoT) issued during ICCC, as psychotic PARRY targets for providing Internet licenses to operate as Internet (at Stanford) discusses its problems access to all district headquarters. Service Providers (ISPs). The terms with the Doctor (at BBN). From Some interesting facts about and conditions of the ISP licenses here, ARPANET took off and has Internet usage in India would were unusually liberal with no evolved into what we now know make sense at this stage of the license fees and were allowed any as the Internet. discussion: number of players at a time. ISP’s Coming to the Indian context, Over 78 percent of Internet were allowed to set their own the Internet isn’t just about e-mails, users are in the age group of 18-39 tariffs and set up their own messaging, chatting or years; international gateways. DoT downloading of information. It is Nearly 75 percent of the total issued three types of licenses the single biggest opportunity Internet users are males; namely, Category A – for all India India has had to build its Nearly 79 percent of the Internet operations, Category – B for metros dominance in the delivery of connections in the country are in and state level circles and Category online services worldwide. To capital cities (New Delhi or other – C for medium and small cities. begin with, the Internet in India
  • 3. % Bizness & Read on ................................... state capitals); India. currently with a spurt in their There are around 200 ISPs in profit margins and the return on More than 86 percent of the corporate houses have endorsed India of which the main ones are their investment expected to rise in the Internet to be a part of their VSNL, MTNL, Department of the near future. corporate strategic framework; Telecommunications, Satyam Problems faced by ISPs Infoway Limited, Hathway, etc., 76 percent of those using the Internet use an e-mail service; and, which are dedicated Internet The telecom policy does not Service Providers. In addition, 27 percent access the Internet allow for the interconnection of from their homes and the balance other major players providing networks. Thus if an ISP has use varied other sources for Internet services in the country multiple points of presence it is not accessing the internet like a cyber include integrated permitted to interconnect them café or place of work or education. telecommunication companies like directly. This is very expensive in The government has been the TATA’s and Reliance. terms of bandwidth requirements taking a number of steps to propel and requirement of multiple Success Pointers India into the information age and Network Operations Centers. convergence by announcing Technical Edge: The record of Laws still exist in India that can policies towards the development accomplishment of ISPs in India be interpreted to make and progress with an ultimate goal has been marred by poor service transmission of data with any form of ‘Internet for all’. Some of the quality. Many users switch to of encryption illegal. Onus of policies announced have, however, other providers if given a prevention of any loss is upon the faced some resistance because of a guarantee of reliability, like a 95 service provider concerned. lack of operational, procedural and percent up time or good quality of However, much of current Internet regulatory framework. The service. While such guarantees are technology, including secure Web declining growth rate of Internet commonplace in the developed servers, PGP encrypted e-mail, and subscribers since 2001 coupled nations, these are virtually non- Virtual Private Networks, are with reduced capital outlays are existent in India. Serious Internet based on encryption. Prevention indicative of the serious maladies, users, especially those whose may be technically impossible, and which the Internet industry is business is dependent on the this could be used as grounds for facing today. Internet would not mind paying a revocation of a private ISP license. ISPs are the main catalysts of slightly higher amount for the Monitoring of Internet usage growth of this industry, which services once such guarantees are may become a prerequisite in have invested heavily in the in place. India. Though there is no infrastructure and expended Financial Sustenance Power: The censorship of Internet content in resources in taking the Internet to ISP industry in India is likely to existence in India now, such homes and cyber cafes across the move ahead in a manner similar to restrictions have been proposed country. From a basic dial-up the private airline industry in the and could come into force at any connection through your regular country. In the beginning, there time. Such content monitoring, for telephone line to the introduction were many private airlines, but prevention of pornography, etc of cable delivery of broadband at high levels of competition and would raise the network your door step and wireless price wars coupled with changing management costs by at least 100 connectivity for accessing the net, government regulations put many percent. Further, the quality of the Internet service providing of these out of business. The ones service would automatically fall industry has come a long way in that survived are doing well with such restrictions.
  • 4. % Bizness & Read on ................................... time. Among them are changes in Opportunities for private ISPs policy, possible high VSNL tariffs, The Internet has proliferated in the metro areas in a major way, so the ceilings or floors on service pricing, main opportunity for a private ISP lies in the non-metropolitan cities restrictions on type of use, where competition from other private ISPs would be less intense. With permissions for operating cyber- a lower marketing cost, a market can be created in such areas. Also, clubs, and so on. the regions with higher industrial activity provide better chances of The Internet is certainly a major good business for the private ISPs. Tourist spots and resort towns phenomenon in India today. are another important arena where private ISPs can flourish. Regions Everywhere one looks, the signs of with poor telecom infrastructure and higher industrial density are areas its arrival and adoption are visible. ideal for providing radio-based leased line internet access. This would In fact, it is being universally help them bypass terrestrial leased lines and provide higher reliability. recognised that as the Internet proliferates, so will E-Commerce Since the government will still play a significant role in quality of and E-Governance and E-Business. control all international trunk service for ISPs. Those opting for It is, therefore, in our national bandwidth to the Internet, all their own fiber-optic exchanges interest to boost the expansion of Private ISPs will have to buy with 500 or more MTNL lines will Internet services in the country. bandwidth. Further, control of definitely have higher service This will not only help our country upstream bandwidth means quality, though at a high initial become a part of emerging global monopolistic action. investment. This investment will E-economy, but will also enable Availability of high quality only start paying off with at least citizens to avail of the benefits telephone and POTS (Plain Old 4,000 heavy use subscribers. arising out of IT enabled services Telephone Service) exchange Many other risk factors exist, (ITES). facility in a given target region will that are difficult to predict at this