It was with great fascination that I first beheld a VSAT in the ’90s. No wires, and a direct satellite link gave the VSAT an amazing amount of glamor. Since it held keys to a colorful TCP/IP Internet account (instead of the grey-ish tones of a Shell account) the VSAT attained an even better hue of fascination. Yes, VSATs were good.
VSATs remained ideal last mile options for a long while in terms of enterprise/SMB IT, one of the notable adoptions being the erstwhile online lottery business, which saw a never-before seen demand for VSATs in India. Today, the VSAT is yet to go the way of the “valve radio”, and still remains indispensable for certain applications—especially for providing last mile connectivity to remote locations.
However, as last mile connectivity for office locations in India, VSAT’s days are long past. This is where wireless connectivity technology like WiMax, radio links and point to point WiFi connections are non-intrusively filling part of the void left behind by the spotty last mile links of VSATs—for the SMB and smaller offices at least.
The not so great part of this monologue is that the Indian enterprise is yet to see a worthy successor to the VSAT when it comes to last mile wireless connectivity. Now, this does not mean that WiMax, WiFi or radio links offer lesser value . It’s just that these new wireless technologies haven’t evolved enough in India—at least in terms of growing uptime and bandwidth demands of Indian organizations. As a result, Indian organizations remain largely wired when it comes to last mile connectivity, wireless remains a backup option or relegated to branch office connectivity.
So is it of little wonder that the official Websites of prominent Indian service providers have at most a perfunctory mention of their wireless last mile offerings for the enterprise? In fact, some of these Websites can provide maze-like (not to mention unfruitful) experiences to the hapless IT team members who undertake evaluation exercises. Just a case in point that the Indian ISPs don’t consider these services lucrative enough.
Once you step out of the Indian metros, even the lesser mentioned application areas of wireless last mile access become a rarity. So unless the ISPs wake up, this area which presents huge potential—for the organization as well as the provider—will be laid to waste. Yes, it’ll be nice to see “no wires”.