Dishnet, an Indian subsidiary of the Sterling Group, is set to launch the subcontinent's first private Internet service.
Under the brand name ETH (Education To Home), the service will be launched once the government authorises the Internet service provider licence - expected to be a formality.
The bundle of services, called eth.net, will include ecommerce and will be targeted at professionals and corporates.
The chairman of Pune based Dishnet and ETH Research Labs is Vijay Bhatkar, also the brains behind India's first homegrown supercomputers. He said: "Through the ETH Internet service, will drive the education to home mission and contribute to 'Operation Knowledge' initiated by the IT Taskforce under the Prime Minister of India."
In order to provide the whole suite of Internet services, Dishnet has entered technology partnerships with Microsoft, Compaq and Intel.
The issue of privatising Internet access services in India, pending for over two years, was recently resolved by the Delhi High Court. The monopoly operator VSNL is set to face competition from hundreds of new entrants like ETH.
Dishnet has recently established its ETH Research Laboratory in Pune to acquire and develop Internet technologies from India and abroad.
It is also planning to install points of presence in eight cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.
Bhatkar said ETH aimed to make its service multilingual and had designed a set-top box to encourage uptake of the Net service and also to offer over 100 satellite TV channels, with the emphasis on education. Eight satellite transponders have been leased from Singapore Telecom, with 24 of the channels devoted to educational programmes for children and adults.
"For widespread deployment of ETH's Internet services, we will invite franchises to set up ETH Internet Centers to sell and support Internet services. ETH will also be available through thousands of infotech kiosks spread countrywide," said Prakash Arya, marketing director of Dishnet.
He claims ETH's competitive edge lies in online registration, easy roaming, multilingual support, voice or fax mail, personal Web hosting, instant access, local community news, and educational content.
To fulfill its 'Education to Home' mission, Dishnet will provide a full featured Internet service (eth.net) free to students, teachers, schools, colleges and universities.
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