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
        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. and 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
    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 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 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 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
    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
Here is a direct quote :
Data Networks Accessible via GPSS 
Country        Network
Belgium        DCS
France         TRANSPAC
Hongkong       IDAS
Italy          ITALPAK
Netherlands    DATANET 1
Norway         DATAPAK
Phillipines    PHILCOM RCA
Singapore      TELEPAC
Sweden         DATAPAK
Switzerland    TELEPAC
U.K.           IPSS
U.S.A.         MCII
               GE MARKET
               PACIFIC TELESIS
               U.S. WEST
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
Italy      ITALCABLE           OMEGA 400
India      VSNL                GEMS 400
Japan      KDD                 MESSAVIA
Korea      DACOM               DACOM MHS
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
    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
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.

    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 their connectivity is not very hot except if you want ONLY

    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 protected] (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)                                                
  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           
  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                                   
    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
    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.