Press Review >>> November 2000

 

 

 

 
Towards Faster, Better Service AP Celebrations - Nov 1, 2000

Southern Online Services Limited (SOL), the Hyderabad based category-B Internet Service Provider (ISP), has been one of the fastest growing ISPs in the state. It entered into an agreement with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to function as an ISP in Andhra Pradesh in December 1998. Ever since, it has been setting standards in high-speed Internet Connectivity coupled with loads of value-added services for its subscribers. Presently it has over 6,500 users subscribing to its dial-up Internet access service and around 25 corporate customers.

This is a laudable achievement as the company did not even has its own gateway. It operates on VSNL (Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited) gateway. It has recently installed its own gateway at Hyderabad and will be offering even better service to its subscribers. Southern Online maintains a port to user ratio of 1:7,which means that not more than seven users are connected to the same line at a time. This ensures easy connectivity to the users. The company pays high importance to maintaining the quality and speed of the service provided to its subscribers. To this end, it has tied up with US-based Tucows.com.

When a user requests for information using his web browser, the request is directly sent to Tucows.com instead of routing to various routers for retrieving the information. Tucows.com then directly sends the information back to the user. This saves a lot of time and ensures quality surfing for the user.

The company provides the dial-up services to the customers right from the domestic users to cyber cafes and has sub-categorized the services based on various customers. Further, it has various packages like Access 100, Access 250, Access 500 and unlimited access for single PC users and cyber cafes. The tariff for the leased line service ranges from Rs 3,60,000 for 64 Kbps to Rs 11,70,000 for 512 Kbps. On the technology front, SOL maintains state-of-the-art digital network equipment. But since the facility provided by the gateway providers in analog, the company uses a multiplexer to convert its digital signals to analog and distribute it. Presently, the digital lines are being tested. Once implemented, the service is expected to become faster. The company promises excellent customer service. The subscription procedures are simple and hassle-free. All one needs to do is to register his name. The subscribers are provided with a complete Internet access kit, which includes a CD, floppy(s) and an instruction manual.

The installation CD that comes along with the package includes free programs, plugins, time saving utilities and other Internet useful material.

Some of the company's corporate clients are: Tata Communications, HCL Infosystems, Gati Cargo Management Systems, Forrester Bhupati, Malamall.com, Netangle.com (Sholay.com) and Niha Communications (CountryOven.com). Southern Online has successfully hosted over 40 web sites. The contracts for corporate connections are usually for a period of one year. Most of the clients have renewed their service contracts with SOL reposing their faith on the company's service. Southern Online introduced leased lines through radio connectivity. In its first year of operations after the public issue, the company closed its accounts with a turnover of around Rs 2.04 crore. It made a net profit of 23 percent of its turnover. Southern Online entered into a tie-up with HL Comnet Limited to provide radio connectivity. Under this agreement, SOL clients will be provided with HCL's equipment to access the Internet using radio connectivity.

The company has also launched a specialized one-stop-shop portal, www.apsearch.com , which provides a comprehensive information about the state. Its access through cable has received good response from the clients.

Southern Online was one of the early entrants into the Internet business. when it decided to foray into ISP, there were no real support systems in terms of infrastructure. Today internet is a sure and smart way of doing business. The company intends reaching a targetted subscriber base of around 15,000 users by the end of the current financial year. It also intends serving around 150 corporate clients for the same period. It has no plans to go for an upgrade in its operation category as it is aiming at providing its service in Andhra Pradesh. Once it establishes a strong presence in the state, it will think about shifting to other grounds, says N.Satish Kumar, executive director, Southern Online Service Limited.