The Internet service provider Satyam Infoway (Sify)
is rolling out its hybrid (combination of wireless and cable)
retail broadband services in Mumbai and Chennai this year.
service will come at a comparable or cheaper rate than
cable Internet players like Hathway Cable & Datacom,
Asianet Satellite Communications and Siti Cable Network
charge. Further, subscribers do not have to buy or rent
a modem, as they do for cable Internet, or for the digital
subscriber line (DSL) connection provided by Dishnet and
Rs 999 per month, and a onetime installation charge of
Rs 3,500, a Sify subscriber gets a broadband connection
guaranteeing a minimum speed of 48 kbps, that can go up
to a maximum of 64 kpbs. While it costs approximately
Rs 33 per hour to browse the net using a dialup connection,
Sifys broadband service costs Rs 25 per hour. There
is no restriction on operating systems used on subscribers
the case of corporates, the initial payment is Rs 60,000
and cost for prepaid cards for browsing. Sify offers broadband
Internet by setting up base stations in different places
in a city. A wireless receiver is fixed at the top of
the customers building in the line of sight with
the base station. From the wireless receiver, the subscriber
premises are wired with an Ethernet cable.
company is also exploring the possibility of working with
cable television operators. Started in April 1998, the
Rs 157-crore Sify operates in both corporate and consumer
segments over a common network infrastructure, and a common
technology knowledge base.
key strength has been its ability to leverage its infrastructure
for multiple services to corporates and consumers. In
addition, Sifys integrated Internet and e-commerce
model enables highly efficient use of infrastructure and
other costs. Sify has also used its early mover advantage
to get choice customers and choice technology partners,
says David Appasamy, general manager, corporate communications.
from an in-depth interview:
did Sify begin operations? What business segments is it
present in now?
Sify began commercial operations in April 1998 with corporate
data and network services. The company today operates
in both the corporate and consumer segments over a common
network infrastructure and a common technology knowledge
base. Sifys network has 54 points of presence across
India, from where the Internet can be accessed from over
200 cities in the country.
corporate network services include: high-speed transmissions,
virtual private networks (VPN) and Safescrypts encryption
/ authentication (Safescrypt is a Verisign affiliate).
We have level three data centres in Mumbai and Chennai,
with world-class hosting facilities for corporates and
businesses. These centres also offer disaster recovery
services, as well as sophisticated e-commerce acceleration
and managed services.
company also has other offerings like: web-enabled services,
managed services and security expertise. The consumer
has 36 channels catering to Indians in India and abroad.
Sifys business segments operate on a common backbone
network with multiple businesses and revenue streams while
costs are shared.
is the average revenue per user (ARPU) / dialup subscriber?
The company provides Internet access to retail consumers
through: dial-up from home, i-Way cyber cafe chain and
broadband services. In dialup, Sify is the largest ISP
with over 6 lakh subscribers. Similarly, the company has
the largest number of franchised cyber cafes, over 700
i-Ways. Our broadband service offers a high-speed, high-quality,
low-cost and easy-to-use Internet connection for homes.
ARPUs have grown by 25 per cent over the last few quarters
to about Rs 10 per user per hour today.
is the market size for broadband connectivity in India?
The market is in too nascent a stage to give any definitive
information. We see the potential for high growth in major
metro cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Calcutta,
Hyderabad and so on.How many owned and franchisee cafes do you have? Are
you planning to increase your franchisee network?
operates the largest chain of cyber cafes, substantially
franchised, in India. We have over 700 i-Ways offering
high quality Internet access on a personalised basis.
We believe that cyber cafes have strong potential based
on our experience with the i-Way chain. The latest IRS
2002 survey also bears this out, with 4 per cent of the
urban population now accessing the Internet regularly,
of which 42 per cent access it through cyber cafes. Most
of our cyber cafes have broadband connectivity, while
the rest are being rapidly converted to broadband.
i-Ways is present across 10 major cities across India.
The major southern cities in which the i-Ways are present
are Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kochi. More cyber
cafes will soon open in Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy and
Pondicherry and other cities. We provide broadband connectivity
from the receiving units of i-Ways to adjacent complexes
via Ethernet cable. We are looking at working with cable
operators as well.
have introduced wireless connectivity. Can you detail
your business plan, and the market segments targeted?
Sifys broadband connectivity to its countrywide
backbone infrastructure was originally developed to ensure
mission-critical performance for corporate customers.
While Sifys backbone is ISO-certified and mission-critical
with high uptimes, the weakest link for any customer was
the last mile, which was usually a leased line from the
telephone service. To bypass this, Sify sourced wireless
broadband technology that enables customers to be linked
with Sify through a wireless radio network.
about 140 corporate customers are connected to Sifys
backbone network using wireless broadband. These include
Internet bandwidth customers as well as those using VPNs
and other services. At the retail end, Sify provides a
broadband Internet experience to over 25,000 consumers
through its i-Ways as well as home access. Some 520 i-Ways
offer broadband access to subscribers while 400 residential
buildings in Mumbai are smart buildings with
broadband access. Broadband access today contributes 33
per cent of Sifys consumer access revenues (ISP
is the composition of your subscriber base - individual
Consumer ISP/dialup: 6,00,000. Corporates: 600.
will be the impact of the governments move to open
up the wi-fi spectrum? Any plans to capitalise
The governments decision on wi-fi is a welcome move
and will open up the opportunities in the Indian market
where the plush hotels and campuses will immensely benefit.
Sify will definitely enter this spectrum.
is Sifys total bandwidth requirement? From whom
do you source bandwidth?
is sourced from multiple suppliers including Videsh Sanchar
Nigam (VSNL), Singtel, Singapore and others. We have over
200 MB of bandwidth that is dynamically allocated on a
distributed IP network.