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
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.