Tata Communications Internet Services‘ latest launch Tata Indicom Extra is strikingly similar to what Sify started in 2007 with ePort Express and Sify Broadband VAS. It offered e-learning courses, ticket booking, bill payment, mobile recharge and e-commerce transactions in addition to Internet access, browsing, chat, email and gaming. The difference is, Tata Indicom did not go about putting up kiosks to offer connectivity, and instead offers Wi-Fi hotspots in India and overseas.
Tata Extra does two things: a) it aggregates a slew of popular online services and b) offers Internet access options. These can be paid for using prepaid cards which you buy online using either net banking, Paymate or a credit card gateway.
Target User: Newbie
The idea of collating a bunch of online services such as cooking sites, essential software, online courses and games etc and enabling Internet users to access them through a single portal makes sense – especially for those who are new to the Internet and want to avoid searching. It even allows them to rent Internet access at Tata Indicom WiFi hotspots to gain access to the net.
Tata Indicom’s sharing agreement with iPass, an international network aggregator will allow them to latch onto Internet connections in 433 airports, 100,000 partner Wi-Fi hotspots and 22,000 hotels and conference venues in 70 countries. Such a service will be the Internet equivalent of calling cards – you can use the prepaid card to buy Internet access overseas, connect and browse for cheaper rates and recharge without having to deal with foreign currencies and hotel passwords. In India, you can either apply for and recharge your Tata Indicom broadband connection.
Nikhil Pahwa adds: At least in India, Tata Indicom will need to establish a substantially large Wifi network: an evolved user prefers access anywhere, and is eventually more likely to opt for a data card connection, or even the mobile Internet, over having to hunt around for a Wifi connection.
Tata Extra offers a smorgasbord of services: a movie catalogue, essential software for download such as anti-virus and anti-spyware, 200 “premium” games such as Krazy Kart (licensed by Zapak), videos, personalized songs, English skills improvement courses and preparatory tests for entrance exams for Engineering, 40 online radio channels, cartoons, cooking sites as well as videos for the religious – 24×7 live darshan across Kashi Vishwanath and Haji Ali, etc. At Extra Estore one can get photos printed, order books and purchase CDs that will be shipped home. It also offers domain name registration and business mail to business users. Something for everyone seems to have been the goal.
The prepaid cards can be bought in denominations ranging from Rs 200 to Rs 6,500.