US-based telecommunications giant AT&T is planning to launch its Internet services targeted at corporate customers by the end of this year or early next year through a joint venture with Mahindra Telecommunications Investment Pvt Ltd, aiming to offer negotiated rates in a cut-throat market that has huge growth potential.
The company, AT&T Global Network Services has set aside $750 million for investment across the world in the segment. Sanjiv Bhagat, chief executive officer of AT&T's India unit, declined to divulge the investment figure in India.
"We see a huge business potential in the corporate sphere. It gives us the confidence that we can maintain the current year's growth of 40 per cent for next two years," he said. In a market dominated by all shapes and sizes of Internet service providers, the size of the market is not clear. AT&T is betting on its advanced, flexible technology backbone to deliver the goods.
"We currently offer services to over 300 business customers in the country," said V.S. Gopinath, vice-president AT&T Asia Pacific.
"India is a high-priority market for just about every global MNC," he said.
Part of the global investment will be used to fund setting up of two more nodes at Bangalore and Mumbai to meet the growing demand, in addition to the existing five Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)-based nodes at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.
MPLS gives network operators a great deal of flexibility to divert and route traffic around link failures, congestion, and bottlenecks. To provide improved quality services, Internet service providers (ISPs) can manage different kinds of data streams based on priority and service plan. For instance, those who subscribe to a premium service plan, or those who receive a lot of streaming media or high-bandwidth content can be specially served to ensure smoother data traffic.
Last year, AT&T became the first foreign telecom operator to secure new licenses for international long distance (ILD) services, national long distance (NLD) services and Internet services under the government's revised policy on foreign direct investment that allows foreign ownership of up to 74 per cent.