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Netizens gain as ISPs slug it out for market share

15-September-2004
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Netizens gain as ISPs slug it out for market share

Internet users utilising dial-up services are in for a treat. Even as intense competition rages among Internet service providers (ISPs), with almost all ISP offering sops in the form of free surfing hours to woo customers, people are now having the luxury of being able to surf more for less outgo.

The Internet market is flush with numerous packages being offered to Net users with extra hours and different speed categories. The offers starts from five hours free net surfing with a 25-hour package to 500 free hours of surfing with a 500-hour package.

Iqara, one of the largest ISP in central and south Gujarat, offers 25 free hours to every new customer. It also offers free surfing hours equal to the paid hours between midnight to 9 am under select plans.

Vadodara based D2V offers a 10-hour free surfing package on a 50-hour Internet package and 35-hours of free surfing on a 50-hour Net connection with 56.6 kbps dial-up access. The price for 50 hour and 250 hour connections are Rs 500 and Rs 2,000, respectively.

The other popular ISP, IceNet proposes five and 45 hours extra with 30 hours and 45 hours package, respectively. The rate for 30 hours is Rs 300 and Rs 1,080 for 45 hours in IceNet offer, which are valid for 12 months. Iqara also offers validity of the packages for one year unlike most of the ISPs for three to six months.

“In fact, cable connection or broadband service is an inexpensive solution for Internet surfers. But surfers who have limited usage or want a connection for short period only due to transferable jobs or the other reasons prefer dial-up connections,” said Suboor Chaudhari of Cresent Systems, a computer hardware and peripherals outfit.

The initial cost of installing broadband connection is quite high compared to the dial-up connection. The user needs just a modem (only if it is not built in the computer) and a phone line to take dial-up connection.

“We normally ask customers to opt for broadband connection as well as try converting old customers to broadband from dial-up connections.

“That is to secure the business for long term as well as to provide cheaper Internet solution to the customers,” said marketing in charge for the ISP. “But we have found that there are customers who want to opt for dial-up service only due to their limited usage for just mail checking once in a while or want to make calls abroad,” he added.

The least expensive Internet connection in dial-up category is offered by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). It does not have many freebies to offer, but its customers can surf between 11 pm to 8 am on week days and for full day on Sunday and national holidays at no charge.

The ISPs are also offering other value-added services bundled with Internet connection such as mail accounts, mail administration, Internet telephony and 24-hour customer support.

The ISPs also offer some other interesting features such as web-based email access, storage space, fast account activation and easy sign up.

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