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August 2, 1999
The Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, the government owned ISP giant, has relented and announced a TCP/IP package at a subsidised rate for students.
An incredible, amazing, hard-to-believe 100 hours online for Rs 1,075 only :-)
Now, the Evil Empire seems to have found a heart!
The VSNL announcement is also likely to wean away most of the youth from competing private ISPs. The age group that students comprise is also the age group that most ISPs are hoping to sell dial-up accounts to.
So, over and above a great public relations cleanup, VSNL has simultaneously managed to damage competition.
The VSNL board that met on Friday took the decision.
Immediately, the move seems to have been triggered by a strategy to counter Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited's recent reductions in Internet access tariff.
MTNL is another government owned ISP and the basic telephony operator in New Delhi and Bombay.
VSNL Acting Chairman and Managing Director Amitabh Kumar told Rediff "We are starting a student's TCP/IP account at 50 per cent the normal price. Initially, however, we are offering only 100-hour accounts."
The scheme is to be activated tomorrow.
This is another step by VSNL towards phasing out of shell accounts. Recently, VSNL discontinued the text-only shell accounts given to non-student subscribers.
Subscribers who had opted for shell accounts costing Rs 5,000 for 500 hours were automatically upgraded to a TCP/IP account.
VSNL hopes that it will be able to discontinue shell accounts given to student subscribers too.
"We will be offering the regular shell accounts for students. But when they are given this option of a TCP/IP account for around Rs 1,000 I do not think that they will want to continue with a shell account," Kumar told this reporter.
VSNL has also slashed its TCP/IP dial-up and lease line access prices for its regular subscribers to match MTNL's rates.
In 1995, the Internet access business in India began with the government empowering VSNL with a monopoly. Last year the sector was liberalised. Some private ISPs have already begun operations now.
But, surprisingly, it is not the private ISPs but another government owned ISP, the MTNL that is pushing VSNL down the tariff card.
VSNL's new reduced tariff for dial-up access
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