By Preethi J
German telecom conglomerate Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile in USA, is planning to join the Internet Service Provider arena in India. According to a MarketWatch report, the telco is planning to set up a high-capacity radio network for quick Internet connections in metropolitan areas of India come next year.
I wonder if we need yet another ISP in India, with already a number of incumbent players – Reliance, Tata Indicom, MTNL, BSNL, Hathaway, Tikona, Sify and Bharti Airtel, and France Telecom, Vodafone and DEN Networks also planning ISPs. With the last mile still closed, wireless is being seen as the way to go; which is where Devas Multimedia comes in.
Devas MultiMedia:Looking To Raise Funds
Deutsche Telekom received permission from India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) last year to invest Rs. 317.85 crore into Devas Multimedia, a little known Bangalore-based wireless services company, which was working on a long term Mobile TV (DMB) project with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). DT has acquired 17% stake in Devas.
Interestingly enough, Devas is looking to raise funds. The company, which already has Telecom Ventures and Columbia Capital as investors, apart from Deutsche Telekom, has a proposal pending with the FIPB for permission to “induct fresh foreign equity participation with the induction of a new foreign collaborator.”
Devas is a curious case: little is known about it, and it still appears to be in stealth mode: there’s no website and there is little information on it except of it’s work with ISRO and its backers.
India desperately needs a catalyst to boost Internet penetration: Internet growth in July 2009 in India has actually fallen to 2.7% from 3.4% in June and 6.3% in May 2009. Besides the well known issues of delinking last mile access and ISP licensing which are throttling growth, other issues Deutsche Telekom will need to grapple with are low PC adoption and lack of Indic language content.
Companies Eying ISP Space In India
Earlier this year, France Telecom also entered India through Equant Network Services, its joint venture with Emery Technologies with the intention of launching Internet services; Vodafone too announced its entry. The latest to announce plans of becoming an Internet service provider is DEN Networks, a cable TV company which is planning to go public to raise funds.
The Wireline Alternative: Broadband Over Power
Research and experiments on Broadband over Power Lines have been on for years – news about it pops up every few months. Indian Express has the latest: about Bengal Engineering and Science University professors and CESC have implemented Broadband over Power in two housing estates in Kolkata. The copper wires that supply electricity to double as broadband connections and installing a customer premise equipment that decodes the signals and brings them to your computer. But if it’s that simple, why is it taking so long to materialise? The government recently deferred an application by Powermax Communications, a provider of power transmission and distribution management systems and broadband over power services, to increase foreign equity participation.