State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, or BSNL, India’s largest telecom-services company, will spend Rs1,500 crore for setting up two data centres with high-capacity servers in a bid to reduce local hosting expenses for global portals.
The new data centres, which will expand the company’s server capacity eight-fold, are expected to drive down prices to international levels. An online presence of 100 giga bytes in India, for instance, costs Rs35,000 (more than $790) a year, more than two times its cost in the US.
BSNL’s aggressive data centre expansion is part of a multi-pronged effort led by Union minister for communications and information technology,Dayanidhi Maran, to have Internet data routed on domestic telecom networks in place of the current model that has such traffic bounced to US servers and back.
This not only soaks up expensive international telecom capacity, but also slows down speed in accessing webpages.
A person who wants to access a webpage on a Yahoo UK server, for instance, from India gets there in 300-350 milliseconds, says Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) Association of India. A person logging on to Rediff, which has servers hosted in India, takes less than a sixth of that time.
Because most of India’s Internet population, numbering about 50 million, access international portals for email and online content, such international traffic costs are huge. Up to three-fourths of Internet access costs in India, according to Pankaj Agrawala, managing director of the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), are international bandwidth costs.
Eliminating that cost will reduce Internet access cost and drive the spread of the Internet.
“The way out is to mandate more and more ISPs to ensure that domestic traffic from their customers is routed locally,”says Agrawala. According to industry sources, rules that enforce such ‘peering’ among Indian ISPs at the nearest NIXI facility will be made shortly. This will enable ISPs to exchange traffic locally rather than internationally. NIXI, in preparation, is expanding to facilities in 10 cities from four currently.
Ideally, then, a Delhi-based Internet customer using Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s web-access service can email a friend using Yahoo email in, say, Chennai and have the email routed within the country, rather than have it sent to the US and back.
Large portals such as Google, Yahoo and eBay, which host most of their servers in the US and the UK, are in talks with BSNL to set up their servers in India. “W e are in talks with NIXI and telecom-service providers to house content in India. A lot of content is actually in the US, and expensive bandwidth is used to access the content, instead of using it locally,’’ says George Zachariahs, managing director of Yahoo India.The company, which announced local applications last week, is building a server farm in Bangalore, as is also its rival Google, say industry insiders