DishTV, the direct-to-home network of Subhash Chandra-owned Essel Group, is planning to provide a satellite-based Internet connection with its set-top boxes in the remote parts of India.
Satellite-based Net connections have not been provided so far in India because of the expenses involved. Jawahar Goel, director, Essel Group, did not disclose the exact costs, but said that the Internet option would add 40% to the existing cost. Officials at DishTV are contemplating whether to provide Internet connections in regions that lack landlines telephones.
“Providing Internet through satellite is a slightly expensive affair. One has to land the full Internet pipe at the broadcast centre, and then use a satellite resource, which is expensive, too,” Goel said. He said satellite broadband was more suited to “remote areas where there is no service available”.
Among the Internet technologies currently being tested in New Delhi and Mumbai is one called WiMax, or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. Like the widely used WiFi (most airport waiting areas are now WiFi-enabled, and entire cities such as London and Pune plan to follow), which transmits information through radio waves over short distances, WiMax does the same but for one function—WiMax signals cover a radius of 30km whereas WiFi covers 30m.
While Goel did not mention the technology involved in providing Internet connections, he said, “People who are in areas with no teleconnectivity and also who are outside the 30km WiMax area, we could provide connectivity through our service,” he says.
According to a report by Juxt Consult, an online research company, India has 25.2 million regular Internet users—a leap of 14.5% from last year. But only a small number, less than five million, according to a report by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia, can be considered high-speed, or “broadband” connections.
Goel said the costs and prices offered to customers in large cities would render his service unfeasible there. DishTV’s approach to Internet reflects their strategy when they launched their satellite television service in 2003 by targeting people outside large cities.
The firm now has more than one million subscribers. “My business is selling the subscription, not the hardware,” Goel said. “Hardware is incidental. People can spend Rs2 lakh for a display device, but they’re not yet tuned to investing in a sports channel.”