Access to the Cyber-World to/from India ========================================= o India : a newcomer in the arena of global information exchange -------------------------------------------------------------- India's exposure to the Internet, electronic-mail and messaging, and other such "information/data exchange" means has been relatively recent. About two to three uears ago e-mail was not even close to as popular as it is today. Even people who have no clue about it talk about it! The recent surge in interest in the networking arena within India is very spectacular. Within a period of a few months all the major magazines carried either cover stories or articles ob te Information Technology field. o How far has it gotten yet? -------------------------- During the past year and a half the number of operations in India offering some form of connectivity must have atleast doubled if not tripled. The ones that I have heard about or used or have info on are : 1) ERNET (Educational and Research Network) 2) GPSS-GEMS (Gateway Packet Switching System) 3) UUNET (UUNET Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.) 4) BI Infotech (Business India) 5) ICNET (does it stand for something? IC? ) 6) I-Net Each of the above mentioned are at different stages of completion and offer different services and surprisingly different rates! First let me jump straight ahead and give an overview of each of the above . o Options ------- 1) ERNET : The Education and Research NETwork is a government run network. It is a joint effort for the National Center for Software Technology, Bombay, Department of Electronics, and the educational institutions (basically a couple of the IITs). ERNET is currently as per my knowledge the only organization which has FULL internet access...i.e. complete TCP/IP connectivity. (for the less technically inclined that means that they can do stuff like telnet, ftp, finger, rlogin, ping etc. besides normal e-mail). The main center is in NCST Bombay. I believe they have a 64Kbps line between Bombay and Washington so things are usually quite spiffy till you get to Bombay. From Bombay on things slow down a bit. There is a leased line connection between Delhi and Bombay...however I have not always found this to be very reliable. When the leased line is down dial-up is used to do the mail transfer. Getting from Bombay to Bangalore seems to be better as IISc seems to have developed quite an impressive setup. I think the 64K link also funtions there. So area wise : Bombay : connectivity is good. Usually very reliable and efficient. NCST is the center. shakti.ncst.ernet.in and sangam.ncst.ernet.in are the main machines ...basically the ones you see most of if you are on ERNET. (National Centre for Software Technology, Gulmohar Cross Road No 9, Juhu, Bombay 400 049, India) Delhi : connectivity is not so hot. The center is at Department of Electronics (DoE). DoE is linked via Bombay. (DoE has dial-in lines which support upto 9600 baud) IITD goes through DoE. They provide SLIP, UUCP and user accounts. There are other places which are linked by ERNET here is the latest list which is on the www(World Wide Web) which I got through Mosaic ... o All India Institute of Medical Sciences o Altos Computers Pvt. Ltd. o Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Bangalore o Centre for Development of Telematics o Centre for Development of Telematics, Bangalore o Centre for Electronic Design and Technology o Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology o Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation o Centre for Railway Information System o CMC Ltd. o CMC Ltd, Bangalore o Delhi Institute of Technology o Department of Electronics o Electronic Regional Test Laboratory EAST o Electronics and Radar Development Establishment o ERNET o Indian Institute of Astrophysics o Indian Institute of Management,Bangalore o Indian Institute of Science o Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay o Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi o Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur o Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur o Indian Institute of Technology, Madras o Indian National Science Academi o Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre o Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre, Bangalore o Indian Space Research Organization o Indian Statistical Institute o Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore o Indian Telephone Industries o Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts o Institute for Studies in Industrial Development o Institute for System Studies and Analysis o Institute of Microbial Technology o Jawaharlal Nehru University o Kasturba Medical Coleege and Hospital (also Manipal Institute of Technology) o Management Development Institute o National Centre for Software Technology o National Information System for Science and Technology o National Institute for Adult Education o National Institute for Financial Management o National Microelectronics Council o Nuclear Science Centre o Orissa Computer Application Centre o PSG College of Technology o Raman Reseach Institute o Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering o Technology Information and Forecasting o University College of Medical Sciences This is the list that I can actually see on the internet and can get to also. Howver, all of these are notm fully functional and ome of them are basically just there for name sake. Like KMC for example...it is a very unreliable site. Are there more than this....yes there very well might be....more UUCP sites. There are plenty of UUCP accounts on ERNET basically gien out to government organizations. If you want specific information at any of the above sites or want to know what all a particular site has send me mail and I'll go fishing in my pool of information (keep in mind you have to give me sufficient time on this!) o Who is ERNET for? Can YOU get to it? Who is ERNET for : ERNET is for the GoI(Government of India!) Can you get to it....initial response is a big NO. But that depends on how much you are willing to spend or on how much pull you have in the GoI(that's how the GoI works...no flames please! ...just my opinion!) If you bothered to read through the list I typed up above, you would have noticed that nearly everything was Indian "blah" or National "blah" ...basically ERENT is GoI and all of GoI's subsidiary. It isn't even all of the government organizations but limited ones. Basically, the unreliable connections were because of problems on the leased line between Bombay and Delhi. It was down nearly every weekend. I hope it's improved now though. There was talk about setting up a 64 link between Delhi and Bombay but I believe it was tried and there were some complications ...the result being that till December last it was still on the same slow connection. I would estimate a baud rate of about 200bps or less at maximum even which I connected directly from the DoE office in Delhi. ERNET is way too expensive for you and me ...well me atleast. Keep in mind that till date it is the ONLY organization with full IP connectivity. Last summer, while I was in Delhi I tried my best to convince DoE and ERNET to OPEN UP! ...basically let other people pay(within limit) for their services. I even met with N. Vittal and gave him a draft of what I had in mind. Never heard back though! ;-) (After all who am I?) Anyways, later on when I got back I was told that DoE had finally decided to give out individual user accounts for Rs. 1000/- p.a. which was really god. So I went ahead and got an account and things were going well. THEN out of the blue DoE clamps up and shuts down practically all of the 1000 rupee accounts. Not all of them were shut down as I still know people who are on there and The reasoning given to me was very superficial. Having already received the money for the account for one year DoE returned the drafts and said "bye bye!" Opinion : ERNET may still have the BEST internet connectivity in India till date. However, only mess with it if you are willing to run around GoI offices, pay huge sums of money(I think they're back to the 100K routine) and basically have the patience and tolerance to deal with them. (PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT trying to flame ERNET here at all... these are the facts from my experience ...now goto std_disclaimer.h!) o Contact Information ------------------- Project Director (ERNET) Department of Electronics Electronics Niketan, 2nd floor 6, CGO Complex Lodi Road, New Delhi 110 003 Tel : (91-11)-4361251, 4363071 Telex : DOE-IN-31-66590, 31-65103 Cable : DEPTELECTRON FAX : +91-11-4362924 2) GPSS-GEMS The Gateway Packet Switching System is under VSNL (Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited which is a GoI organization (different from ERNET). GPSS is the X.25 PAD and GEMS 400 (Gateway Electronic Mail Service) is the e-mail system you can access directly via GPSS. o What does GPSS let you do? GPSS is NOT repeat NOT and PAD for the Internet(here I mean ethernet sites like edu's com's etc...basically sites which we have access to most easily). GPSS is to get to stuff like Compuserve, AT&TMail, MCIMail, SprintMail etc. GPSS allows you to dial in to a locl number, then once connected to the PAD you can connect to Compuserve etc. However note that youhave to pay for BOTH the GPSS access and also for the Network you connect to. And furthermore you pay for Compuserve or whatever directly in Dollars. The AT&T office in Delhi offers AT&T mail via GPSS and I think there are ways of getting to Compuserve etc also from within India to signup. GPSS takes a maximum baud rate of 2400 baud. (And with my experience with the phone lines ...don't even THINK about using a NON-MNP modem!) It can be accessed via I-NET also. I-NET is discussed later in this document. Here is a direct quote : Data Networks Accessible via GPSS Country Network Belgium DCS DCS-TELEX DCS-PSTN France TRANSPAC NTI Hongkong IDAS DATAPAK Italy ITALPAK Netherlands DATANET 1 DABAS DATANET Norway DATAPAK Phillipines PHILCOM RCA GMCR ETPI-2 Singapore TELEPAC Sweden DATAPAK TELEPAK Switzerland TELEPAC U.K. IPSS PSS U.S.A. MCII TYMNET TELENET AUTONET COMPUSERVE GE MARKET CONNET BATC BELLCORP AMERITECH NYNEX PACIFIC TELESIS SBTC U.S. WEST GLOBENET W. Germany DATEX-P o GEMS 400 GEMS is the Gateway Electronic Mail Service accessed via GPSS. It is X.400 based and cann communicate with limted other X.400 sites. GEMS cannot be used to send mail to actual internet domains such as edu's com's etc...stuff which most of us are on. I tried doig so but it doesn't work. GEMS can go only to the X.400 carriers such as Compuserve, ATTmail, MCIMail etc. If you use GEMS you do not pay GPSS charges which are already included in the GEMS charges. Here is a listing of all the X.400 sites accessible via GEMS : Country Organization Service Australia OTC TELECOM KEYLINK BelGIUM RTT DCS Mail Canada TELECOM CANADA ENVOY 100 Germany DEUTSCHE BUNDEPOST TELEBOX 400 Italy ITALCABLE OMEGA 400 India VSNL GEMS 400 Japan KDD MESSAVIA Korea DACOM DACOM MHS Spain TELEFONICA SERVICES MENSATEX Sweden TELEDATA TEDE 400 UK British Telecom GOLD 400 USA AT&T AT&TMail MCI MCIMail US SPRINT SPRINTMAIL AT&T Western Union EASYLINK 400 Singapore SIGNAPORE TELECOM TELEBOX o Tarrif : GPSS Tarrif : Connection Charge : Rs. 4/- per minute Traffic charge : Rs. 2/- per 10 segments 1 segment = 64 characters. Transmission of 9000 characters at 1200 bps will take 1 minute and will cost Rs. 34/-. GEMS Tarrif : Service agreement fee (one time) : Rs. 1000/- Connect-time charges (PSTN, PAD, PSPDN) : Rs. 1/- per minute For delivery to overseas e-mail accounts : Rs. 3/- first 500 character block Rs. 1/- subsequent 200 character block For delivery on overseas fax number : Rs. 15/- first 1000 character block Rs. 3/- for each subsequent 500 character block + e-mail charges Receiving : FREE o Personal Opinion : ------------------ GPSS is good if you ALREADY have an account on Compuserve, ATTmail etc. Basically otherwise you land up paying twice over ...in India for GPSS and in the US for the actualy network operator. GPSS is just like doing a glorified long distance phonecall to connect to Compuserve etc. ...the only difference being it might be a bit cheaper. However it is VERY slow as on dialup maximum speeds are 2400 bps. GEMS : I eally don't see any use for it unless the ONLY nets you need to communicate with it are the one's listed above. Once again both GPSS and GEMS require running around to GoI offices...first to the Telecom office maybe something like MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited) and then to other places getting their forms filled and approvd and all. VSNL who runs GPSS is the most stuck up organization I have come across in India in the IT field. A prospective customer is basically ignored rather than encouraged to join their service. 3) UUNET UUNET is a subsidiary of UUNET Technologies, USA. In India they currently provide UUCP based services. Though they have tentative plans to get their own leased lines all the way to the US and offer full IP connectivity. Currently UUNET is going either through GPSS or through PSTN ...so their connectivity is not very hot except if you want ONLY e-mail... UUNET is good for organizations as they basically give you a UUCP account and then you can have as many users as you like... of course the charge is by volume. UUNET seems to be grwing in India but relatively slowly. I would still classify it as a better deal than ERNET at 100K! And futhermore it being a private organization it is easier to communicate with them. Here are the UUNET tarrifs... o Tarrif International E-mail charges(includes domestic connectivity also) Low Volume High Volume (Less than 100K per month) Subscription Security Deposit Subscription Security Deposit 3 months 3,000 5,000 6,000 5,000 6 months 5,000 5,000 10,000 5,000 1 year 7,500 5,000 15,000 -nil- Domestic ONLY(per year rate) Per city: Rs. 5000 (subscription fee) + Rs. 5000 (security deposit) Date rates: International : Rs. 7/- per Kilobyte Domestic : Rs. 2 per page (2500 characters) for overnight delivery Rs. 4/- per Kilobyte for immediate delivery o Opinions and comments I would have gone with UUNET but their volume charge of 7 bucks per Kb is absolutely outrageous! Secondly, they also try to sell you BSD 386 which is not bad...but for the conditions under which a non-corporate user would utilize it ...nah! Way to complicated for the average Joe Byte in India. However, I still prefer UUNET than ERNET! o Contact UUNET INDIA (P) Ltd. Netwrking Division 270 N, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad 500034 Tel : 290817, 238007 Fax : 291933 E-mail email@example.com (this is a persons account. I know he knows his stuff about UUNET therefore I am putting it in here. But please don't start sending mass mailings to him!) 4) BI Infotech BI Infotech is an IT operation started by Business India (the magazine). They provide e-mail and database services withing India and inernationally too. BI is using something very similar to what I had in mind sometime back. Basically they run machines which can handle UUCP traffic and do a dial-up to JVNC in the US to do the international mail transfer. The domestic mail is handled either by their other stations across India or by some other means. The inernational polling by BI to JVNC is supposed to be done every hour. (Though recently I have a feeling it is being done less frequently.) BI says that their international messages will have a maximum delivery time of 12 hrs. Here is a direct excerpt from their catalog : TARIFF CARD ----------- BASIC CHARGES ------------- REGISTRATION (per eM-box) Upto 10 eM Boxes 1,500 From 11 to 25 eM Boxes 1,350 26 eMboxes 1,050 ANNUAL eM-boX RENTAL (per eM-box) Without Modem 1,200 With aXcess multipurpose Modem 5,400 (V.42 bis,2400 bps. MNP 5) DATASERVE Business DataServe,per month 1,000 Regular/prime CONNECT TIME (per minute,per session) For the first 10 minutes nil From 11 to 20 minutes 1.00/2.00 From 21 to 30 minutes 2.00/3.00 For every additional minute 3.00/5.00 SERVICE CHARGES --------------- MESSAGE TRANSMISSION (per page) Regular priority Instant Global aXcess Memo 1.75 3.00 5.75 18.00 Other Messages For 1 to 3 pages 3.00 5.00 10.00 18.00 Extra page 2.50 4.00 8.00 18.00 Alert,per number 6.00 INCOMING MESSAGES Upto 5 pages/day Nil Nil per additional page/day Nil 5.00 MULTIMEDIA DELIVERY(per page) Telex 15.00 50.00 Fax 12.00 40.00 Laserletter For first page printed 10.00 21.00 For each extra page 5.00 5.00 ATTACHMENTS(per 10 KB) ASCII File Transfers 15.00 Binary File Transfers 15.00 ----------------------------------------------------------------- 5) ICNET ICNET Limited "Sorrento" 6, Lattice Bridge Road Adyar, Madras - 600020 Tel : (91-44)-414800, 418886, 418887 Fax : (091) (44) 491-0398 6) INET : This one's done by MTNL Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited. It's a bunch of leased lines webbed across India. It had good connectivity. Slow, maybe not very poular (GoI). Supports CCITT X.3, X.28 X.25, X.29 X.75 Charges are very close to those of GPSS. Infact you can use INET to get to GPSS and vice-versa. Therefore you can connect to the X.400 networks via INET also.