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India Online Network lights up its fibres

With a high-tech DWDM optical fibre network that spans the length and breadth of Mumbai city, India Online Network is all set to give users a taste of its SpeedMelon broadband Internet services

It seems Mumbai city is all wired up for broadband services, what with different service providers digging up the whole city to lay their cables and ducts. One such Broadband service provider is India Online Network Ltd (IOL). It has already installed an end-to-end optical fibre network in Mumbai. IOL launched its SpeedMelon broadband Internet service in June 2001. Since this is an 'always on' Internet service, it is regarded as an extended intranet. To speed up access and optimise the usage of bandwidth, it is hosting broadband content (like movies) and popular website home pages on its own intranet servers.

"Our network infrastructure is designed on the lines of an intranet. In fact it's a WAN with an intranet design," says Porus Tavadia, General Manager, Strategic Alliances, IOL.

IOL began work on its DWDM fibre optic network about a year back when it started laying the backbone, a 48-core fibre optic cable with a capacity of 48 Gbps (full-duplex). The 100 Km backbone runs through Mumbai city, beginning at Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai and extending northwards to Andheri.

POPS AND RINGS

A bird's eye-view of the network shows a series of rings around points of presence (PoPs). A PoP in this case is a combination of routing or switching equipment, and IOL has chosen Cisco equipment for this purpose. The PoP is connected to the backbone and to the Ethernet rings. PoPs and rings are currently located at Cuffe Parade, Marine Lines, Andheri and various other parts of Mumbai. Typically, each POP can service 16 rings. Each ring is a six core fibre with 2 Gbps capacity that can service 248 ports or users. The fibre optic cable from the ring terminates at the router on the building. A CAT-5 cable is drawn from the router and leads to the user's premises, where it terminates at the Ethernet card in the users PC. Hence no cable modems are required.

Connectivity at the customers end could differ slightly. In case of a corporate customer, the LAN could be connected to a Proxy server or firewall, which in turn is connected to the ring via a router.

DATA CENTRE

The core of the network is the Data Centre, located at IOL's Marine Lines office in Mumbai. The broadband service provider has an intranet for internal use within the data centre. The backbone is connected to the intranet via a switch. The intranet has mail servers, application servers, and DNS servers. The servers are a mix of Sun Solaris and Windows 2000 boxes. IOL maintains separate mail servers for internal use and for SpeedMelon accounts. There is also an additional Relay server that schedules downloads and transmission of e-mail at different periods during the day. This enables efficient usage of bandwidth and helps administrators keep a check on e-mail viruses.

The Application Servers run authentication software, monitoring programs and billing applications. The DNS servers resolve a domain name to its numeric IP address.

The intranet at the data centre also has a Cisco Cache Engine. Home pages of popular websites are stored in the cache for quick access.

Moving away from the intranet towards the Internet, there is a firewall connected to a router, which is in turn connects to the gateway. Currently IOL utilises Internet gateway services from Global Telesystems.

SERVICES

Besides broadband Internet connectivity, IOL is offering its corporate, SME and SOHO customers a range of services like Customised Bandwidth Solutions, VPN, Video Conferencing, video/music on demand, e-education and online gaming.

Explaining the concept of 'Customised Bandwidth' IOL officials say this is a two fold concept. For one, IOL is ready to offer bandwidth on demand. Secondly, it can reduce/increase the ratio of users to a pipe.

"A customer's bandwidth requirements may shoot up at any point in time and we are positioned effectively to provide bandwidth at the turn of a tap," says Flynn Remedios, VP, Technology & Projects, IOL.

IOL is also putting the finishing touches to its Speedmelon.net website that will have broadband content exclusively for SpeedMelon subscribers. "The USP of this website will be fast downloads of broadband content that will be pre-selected and stored on IOL's intranet servers," says IOL's Porus Tavadia. "We will host music, movies, games and other broadband content on our servers and stream it to our customers through 10 Mbps connections."

IOL is also considering the ASP model and will host applications that can be shared.

With all these services tucked under its belt, it looks like IOL is ready to give its SpeedMelon subscribers Internet access "at the speed of light."

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Copyright 2001: Indian Express Group (Mumbai, India). All rights reserved throughout the world. This entire site is compiled in Mumbai by The Business Publications Division of the Indian Express Group of Newspapers. Site managed by BPD