Chapter 2


2.1 Indian Internet History And Status

Before the appearance of VSNL's GIAS, Internet had been in India for many years in the form of ERNET. However, it was not possible for many people to get access to it, as it was meant for only the educational and research communities. This followed the policy laid down by the American Internet manager NSF, at that time.

a. Educational Research Network (ERNET)

Internet in India was established almost 10 years ago, as ERNET. It was a joint undertaking of the Department of Electronics (DOE) of the Government of India, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which provides technical assistance to developing nations. ERNET is one of the most successful operations that UNDP has funded. It established for India the idea that we can participate in the Internet. Currently ERNET operates many nodes and has a 64 Kbps link to USA via Mumbai.

All major nodes of ERNET are connected to each other using 9600 bps leased lines. These lines are being upgraded to 64 Kbps links. Over 200 academic and R&D groups exchange email with each other using ERNET. Over 8000 scientists and technologists have access to ERNET facilities. International access is provided over a 64 Kbps leased line, from NCST, Mumbai, to USA. Plans for ERNET include the creation of a satellite communication system to enable ERNET to reach locations which do not have good data communication links.

b. Gateway Internet Access Service (GIAS)

On August 15th 1995, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) -- the Indian international trunk telephone carrier company -- launched the Gateway Internet Access Service (GIAS). Subsequently, 6 nodes were established at Mumbai, Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Bangalore and Pune. Each GIAS node is connected to Internet via high speed MCI circuits having a bandwidth of approximately 10 Mbps.

Users in remote areas of India can reach GIAS service via I-NET. The Department of Telecommunication (DOT) has a wide-spread network in India called I-NET, which has direct connectivity to each GIAS node. You can access GIAS from 99 cities in India by this means.

2.2 Getting connected

To get connected to the Internet, you will need to get an account with VSNL. There are basically two types of accounts, and depending on your status -- for example, student, professional, or commercial organization -- your costs will vary. Some of the details about it are described below.

a. The options

You can access GIAS either by a dial-up or a leased telephone line. There are two types of dial-up accounts available -- the Terminal and the TCP/IP account. The tariff chart for these is given below:


Terminal Dial-up Service

STUDENT Rs. 50/- Rs. 500/-
GENERAL Rs. 500/- Rs. 5000/-

TCP/IP Dial-up Service

GENERAL Rs. 500/- Rs. 15,000/-

The tariff for leased line access includes the line lease charge as well as the Internet account charge for a TCP/IP account with permanent Internet Protocol (IP) address. The leased lines are available at various speeds and the tariff for them is given below:

TCP/IP Service with Leased Line Access

2.4KBPS Rs. 15,000/- Rs. 1.5 lakhs Rs. 1.2 lakhs
9.6 KBPS Rs. 15,000/- Rs. 6 lakhs Rs. 4.8 lakhs
64 KBPS Rs. 20,000/- Rs. 12 lakhs Rs. 9.6 lakhs
128 KBPS Rs. 20,000/- Rs. 18 lakhs Rs. 14.4 lakhs
256 KBPS Rs. 40,000/- Rs. 25 lakhs Rs. 20 lakhs
512 KBPS Rs. 40,000/- Rs. 36 lakhs Rs. 28.8 lakhs
1 MBPS Rs. 40,000/- Rs. 60 lakhs Rs. 48.0 lakhs
2 MBPS Rs. 50,000/- Rs. 100 lakhs Rs. 80 lakhs

For government-recognized educational institutions and government scientific organizations, 64 Kbps access is provided at Rs. 4 Lakhs per annum, and higher-speed connections are charged at n X (64 Kbps tariff), for a line bandwidth of 'n' times 64 Kbps.

In this book we primarily discuss the Terminal account, and to a much lesser extent, the TCP/IP account. Please see Appendix C for more discussion about leased lines.

b. Where to go and what to do

The procedure involved in getting either the Terminal account or a TCP/IP account is the same. Basically there are two steps to obtaining the account.

The first step is to get a modem for your computer which is approved by DOT for use on telephone lines. The next step is to contact the VSNL customer relations section in your city (in Mumbai Tel No: 262 4020 ext. 2044 or 2222) and get an application form and brochure. Fill up the application, attach the required Demand Draft taken in favor of VSNL, and send it to the customer relations section. Within a short time you will be informed of your login name and password.

c. Terminal Account

(I). Hardware Requirements

The minimum requirement for accessing the Terminal account is either a VT100/VT220 type of terminal or a DOS machine.

A 80386 processor machine with an adequate hard disk and 14.4 Kbps error correcting modem will serve you well.

(II). Software Requirements

With a DOS machine, a DOS-based terminal emulation program is needed. There are many of these programs available, either as shareware or commercially. Two of these, Telix and Procomm Plus, are described in further detail below.

Telix is a shareware program, which means you can get it from a friend or download it from a WEB site, for example Unzip the file in a Telix directory. Then run a program called modemcfg to configure the software for your modem. The program will prompt you for information. The most important information it may need is the brand name and model of the modem, as that will set the configuration parameters from a stored table in the software.

Procomm Plus is a commercial program which has to be purchased. This program also will prompt you for the information needed for installation. This is a feature of most communication software packages, and some now automatically detect your modem type and give you the choice to alter it if the automatic choice is in error.

Both these, as well as most other packages, provide dialing directories where you can store phone numbers and some of the dialing parameters.

d. TCP/IP account

(I) Hardware Requirements

The minimum requirement for accessing a TCP/IP account, which requires graphics capability, is a 80386 processor machine with 4 MB (preferably 8 MB) RAM, or one having similar processing power, such as the Apple MAC. At least a 14.4 Kbps modem is needed. For an IBM-compatible machine, either Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 operating system is required for the TCP/IP account.

(II) Software Requirements

Originally, the PCs were not designed to communicate with other computers. For LAN type useage, different protocols (a set of rules for communication ) were designed and used. To communicate over the Internet, the windows applications, need to send and receive data using TCP/IP communications protocol. To be able to do this, Winsock (TCP/IP stack) need to be installed in Windows.

If you are using Windows 3.1 or 3.11 system software, appropriate 16 bit TCP/IP stack software will be required. There are many choices for this, for example Chameleon, Netscape, Internet in a Box, and Windows 95, to name a few. Most of these have an auto-install program, which, during installation, will ask you for two IP addresses for the DNS servers, one primary and one secondary. If you are also installing E-mail software such as Eudora, then one more IP address, for a SMTP server, needs to be entered. These addresses are given in
Appendix A, for different locations in India.

For a TCP/IP account, in addition to the browser and e-mail applications you may need software for other applications, like telnet and ftp. Internet software such as "Chameleon" and "Internet in a Box", usually has many of these applications bundled in. Application software packages for networking employ a design called client-server architecture, where the software sitting on the PC, i.e. your software package, is optimized for ease-of-use and may be referred to as the "client". The host computer of an Internet node with which it is interacting, may be referred to as the "server". Thus in the context of Internet software, a client is an application software package.

For the Windows 95, the TCP/IP stack software supplied with it has to be installed, which is a somewhat complicated task.

Details of configuring some of the above mentioned software are given in Appendix B. In any case, my suggestion is to contact the VSNL helpdesk or VSNL's marketing agents.

Chapter 1 Internet Basics
Chapter 3 Logging on to VSNL
Table of Contents