Infrastructure Development and Financing

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1 Infrastructure Development and Financing Project: A study of the ISP Business Submitted to: Prof. Rekha Jain, Prof G. Raghuram and Prof. S. Morris By: Group 2B Balaram Narayankar Ram Mohan N.S Rajesh M.A. Santosh Verma Uma Nandhini 1

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 3 SERVICES PROVIDED BY ISP...3 The Connectivity Business...3 VALUE ADDED SERVICES PROVIDED BY B-ISPS...5 Managed Data Networks...5 Hosting & Colocation...6 Content Distribution Networks (CDNs)...6 Other Services...7 Application Service Providers (ASPs)....7 Global Trends in Internet... 7 Expanding Access Platforms Moving Beyond the PC...8 Wireless Connectivity Further Expands the Internet Market...9 Mass Digitization of Content The Virtuous Cycle...10 Migration to Broadband A Classic Paradigm Shift...10 Virtuous Cycle Reach, Bandwidth, Value Added...10 But we will still need more...13 ISP trends around the world Consolidation...14 DOMINANT STRATEGY FOR ISPS...17 The ISP scene in India: THE ISP MARKET IN INDIA...19 MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE INDIAN ISP MARKET...23 Technology MOBILE COMMERCE ENABLING TECHNOLOGY...37 Genealogy of Wireless Network Infrastructure Platforms MOBILE HANDSET HARDWARE TECHNOLOGIES...41 Bibliography

3 The objective of the report is to make an in-depth study of the ISP business. The study covers the services provided by ISPs in India and across the globe the factors that make an ISP provide these services the trends across the globe which are changing the dynamics of the ISP business the technologies involved in this business Services provided by ISP ISPs provide the connectivity and applications-platform infrastructure of the Internet. Besides providing connectivity they also provide Managed Data Network (MDNs) Colocation and Hosting services Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) Valued Added Services (VAS) Applications Services The global trend is towards bundling these services by ISPs, to achieve synergies as once the network or the backbone is setup by the ISP, the cost of providing these services is not significant. It is interesting to observe that the market has made an infrastructure providing opportunity commercially viable. ISPs serve content and commerce web site operators, corporate Intranets and extranets, as well as end users. Their suppliers are the telcos that deliver basic telecommunications transport services, and the providers of hardware and software technology. The trend is that of the suppliers (the telcos) integrating forward to become ISPs, thereby making owning the infrastructure a precondition to be a large scale ISP. The Connectivity Business ISPs can be classified into Consumer Internet Service Providers(C ISP) and Business Internet Service Providers(B-ISP) on the basis of the market segments. The profile of players, the services provided and the strategy adopted are significantly different in these two segments. 3

4 Consumer Internet Service Providers link individuals and small businesses to the net and resell Internet access from larger players. The customer connection is established through a local loop that is generally leased from a local exchange carrier either a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) or DSL carrier. From there, customer circuits are connected from a telco s central office to the local ISP s point-of-presence (POP). The POP, which contain access equipment (routers and switches) may be owned or leased by the local ISP. Larger, regional ISPs may have tiered-network architecture with mega-pops to concentrate local POP traffic on a regional basis. Backbone providers lease capacity to ISPs under long term agreements (called indefeasible right of use, or IRUs) as well as short-term (typically one to three year) lease contracts. The sector is characterized by low entry barriers, burgeoning demand, which leads to intense competition and eventually paving way for consolidation. As the connection to the Internet becomes a commodity, C-ISPs increasingly differentiate themselves through content and try to leverage their brand names. In US, AOL is focussing on content as customers spend 70% of their usage time in the proprietary environment of AOL rather than the net. The implication of this consumer behaviour is that companies move up in the value chain in terms of content and not into Internet infrastructure. An ISP who does not own infrastructure is dependant on the local loop provider, the telco and the backbone provider.the ISP then acts only as an intermediary and so faces threat of entry from all three players. The rollout of high-speed local connections such as DSL, has increased the required levels of capital investment and sophistication. As consumer ISPs are small players who do not have the resources or capability to build infrastructure, they try to build brand by providing content. Thus they leverage their brands as an entry barrier. Customer Local Loop Telcos ISP Back bone INTERNET The revenue streams for Internet service providers are essentially through subscriptions, advertising charges and telephone charges. In the US, the free Internet access model 4

5 (around 10% of the user base) is based on advertising compensating for the lost revenues, while the European free access model (again accounting for only 10-15% of users) is based on revenue sharing arrangement with telcos. Business ISPs : B-ISPs provide businesses and other ISPs with Internet connectivity and value added services such as security and web hosting. B-ISPs include both large corporate or public-owned players who typically own and operate backbone networks (and whose businesses center around selling pipes to enterprise customers and other ISPs) as well as smaller players. The scale economics of connectivity mandate that major B- ISPs own their own networks. The major players are telecommunication companies in US. Unlike the C-ISP market, the corporate clients are not price sensitive and are willing to pay a premium for value added reliable services as outsourcing is economically efficient (due to economies of scale and scope) than in house development and maintenance of theses services. It is by providing the additional services besides the basic service of connectivity, B-ISPs recover their investment in infrastructure. Value added services provided by B-ISPs Managed Data Networks MDNs serve large businesses with dedicated subnets that are operated independently from the public Internet backbones, yet connect to the Internet through private and public peering points. MDNs form a premium subset of the business ISP market. MDNs provide higher level of security and performance reliability. These are critical for the real-time transfer of business information in a number of industries, most notably financial. Also they are currently better suited for certain value added services, such as voice over IP (VoIP). Virtual Private networks form an important sub-segment of MDN. VPN deployment is driven by the need to manage costs of operating corporate backbone (i.e., inter-site) networks that are growing fast under the demand for Intranet services. Corporate network traffic is now predominantly IP, so it is relatively easy to buy outsourced services. Besides ISPs there are telecom companies, which provide a global network, catering to a specific application e.g. Savvis in financial services. Because of such specialization 5

6 advantages arise in the areas of network configuration, billing and back office functions. Moreover, vertical market customer reach creates an excellent opportunity for MDNs to benefit from the growth of vertical extranets. MDNs support multiple protocols besides IP. This enables them to service clients with non-ip proprietary protocols. Hosting & Colocation Colocation providers build out data center space with raised flooring, enhanced electrical and air conditioning facilities, and divided-off cages, closets and racks. They then arrange telecommunications connections. Service pricing begins on a square footage basis, plus telecom charges. Customers of colocation typically provide all their own servers and other computer equipment and assume responsibility for managing every aspect of their web service. Web hosting is the provision of a cost-effective outsourcing alternative for e-commerce business ventures. It offers a professionally managed environment for web servers to conduct e-commerce 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Web hosting differs from colocation as they offer other services like Firewalls and anti-virus application monitoring systems to detect intrusions and guard against hackers. Bandwidth management and server load-balancing systems to ensure there is sufficient bandwidth and even distribution of traffic between servers. Web traffic monitoring software (e.g., webtrend) to generate traffic reports with page views and geographical breakdown for customers to evaluate response to marketing campaigns, generate data for advertisers references, etc. Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) CDNs provide specialized Internet overlays that improve Internet performance by accelerating the distribution of content to the user, supporting streaming and enabling more rapid applications processing. CDNs initially used caching devices at the edge of the Internet, thus internet content could be delivered to users from nearby locations. This eliminated the long download delays that sometimes occur when requests must travel over multiple networks and through multiple routers, each of which slows down 6

7 transmissions, and then when the requested web page must be transmitted back over a similar route. Many CDNs have developed their proprietary routing algorithms. Other Services Overlay applications such as private peering, storage management, security management, traffic prioritization, high performance routing, and color rendering are provided by IIS companies. Application Service Providers (ASPs). ASP s provide fully outsourced, web-based e-commerce and corporate applications using industry standard software platforms. While ASPs initially implement the underlying software applications, on an ongoing basis they deliver 24x7 support functions such as application monitoring, server management, storage, security, and network connectivity. First, ASPs try to minimize the amount of customization they will undertake for a customer. Ideally, the ASP will use a packaged software solution out of the box, focusing most customization on writing Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to the customers existing systems. Second, ASPs make the customers applications accessible over the Internet. Third, ASPs try to assemble superior applications expertise beyond what would be feasible for a single company to assemble. E-commerce web sites are probably the single most requested ASP application. They also implement ERP and CRM and new enterprise products. Most of the ASPs do not have their own data centres and focus on developing applications and out source web hosting facilities. Global Trends in Internet The global trends help us understand the nature of demand for connectivity that might arise in the future, whether it would be through PC or wireless, the factors that determine internet penetration through a particular medium, the infrastructural constraints bandwidth, the factors behind the growing demand for net connectivity. 7

8 Such an understanding will help an ISP to formulate a strategy that would identify the opportunities for increasing reach the increasing bargaining power of bandwidth providers the business segments that he should target, the nature of services to be provided. Expanding Access Platforms Moving Beyond the PC At present, end users connect to the Internet primarily through PCs located in their homes or offices. However, ubiquitous connectivity requires loosening the constraints on both access devices and geographical proximity to a wall socket. Since 65 million households in the U.S. have TVs but not PCs that are connected to the Internet expanding access to the TV platform should help fill this connectivity gap. For the 35 million households that are already online, TV-based access will drive penetration into other rooms in the home. Back home the situation is not vastly different (though the numbers are admittedly smaller) with 28% households having TVs and under 1% of the population having PCs. Similarly, expansion of access to wireless mobile devices (e.g., phones, pagers and pocket organizers) should do for the Internet what cell phones did for telecommunications drive penetration, usage volume and revenue for providers and functionality and convenience for end users. Internet Projections Vs Other Consumer Innovations 8

9 Wireless Connectivity Further Expands the Internet Market Wireline Internet access dominates U.S. thinking, but in Europe and Japan, the attention is on wireless. In large part, this difference reflects historical differences in supply. The U.S. market is heavily penetrated with PCs, and enjoys flat rate local calls that enable effectively unlimited dial-up Internet access for $15-20 per month. On the other hand, the U.S. cellular infrastructure is technically and commercially fragmented, with many areas of poor coverage. In Europe and Japan, the situation is reversed. PCs are scarce, and local PSTN calls are metered. Consequently, although dial-up access is popular, usage levels are far below U.S. experience. On the other hand, both regions enjoy high penetrations of standard digital cellular networks operating on a single standard, whose operators are now looking to wireless data to sustain their growth. Over time, these supply-side differences will even out, with the adoption of dedicated (flat rate) wireline access and the deployment of 3G wireless services. In the meantime, however, Europe and Japan are making the running in wireless Internet. Wireless Data Connectivity (Internet Enabled Devices) 9

10 Mass Digitization of Content The Virtuous Cycle The trend toward digitizing all types of content including video, voice and data is accelerating. Those who create content in any medium and port it to the Internet can achieve worldwide distribution instantaneously and at almost zero marginal cost. Therefore, the Internet represents an additional distribution window affording content owners an opportunity to maximize profits after incurring the sunk cost of creating or acquiring their content. This helps to explain why so many content owners have rushed to port their offerings from traditional media to the Internet. This feedback will create a virtuous cycle in which more digitized content leads to more end users, which in turn leads to more revenue, which in turn leads to more digitized content, and so on. Migration to Broadband A Classic Paradigm Shift One of our primary themes is that the market is moving toward near-ubiquitous broadband connectivity and multi-dimensional convergence. The forces driving this change are easy to articulate and virtually impossible to stop greater efficiency, lower cost and improved technology. From the end user s perspective, the drivers also include higher speed, greater functionality and a better online experience. The migration to broadband represents a true paradigm shift because the high-speed experience is different in kind, not merely degree, from the low-speed experience. Simply put, the market cannot realize the full benefits of the Internet without a fat pipe across the local loop. Virtuous Cycle Reach, Bandwidth, Value Added These factors mentioned above are not independent. In fact, they positively reinforce one another in the Internet ecosystem. For example, users connect to the Internet when they perceive the value of applications available exceeds some level. So increased availability of applications in turn leads to more users. It also leads to lower usage prices, because the shared Internet infrastructure can be amortized over more users and applications. On the other hand, as the number of users increases and the price of traffic declines, more applications become cost-effective. This positive feedback accounts for the accelerating growth of ISPs. 10

11 Outsourcing Higher-Level Internet Services As the marketplace grows more competitive, companies will increasingly focus on what they do best their areas of relative advantage and outsource the rest. There will be a dramatic increase in the number of firms outsourcing their online presence, including e- mail, e-commerce, Web hosting, applications hosting, co-location, unified messaging, VPNs, security, data storage, data processing, back office operations, etc. This should mark the beginning of a shift to true network computing. Before this shift can occur, however, the issue of bottlenecks in the network and especially those in the local loop must be addressed. As ASPs grow in both size and influence, more firms will outsource their online presence. They will also expand the range of services they are willing to outsource. The result should be a surge in demand for broadband access as companies try to remove the last mile as a gating factor in their quest for greater efficiency. 11

12 Multitude of Pipes There will be four major pipes into the home of the future (i.e., telco, cable, satellite and wireless) and three major pipes into the office (i.e., telco, satellite and wireless). Different technologies will emerge as superior for different purposes, depending upon the customer s use, location and access device. At present, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is ideal for point-to-point, real-time voice communications. However, it is sub-optimal for bandwidth intensive data and video applications. Cable is ideal for video and well suited for certain data applications, but is not yet ready for voice traffic. Satellite is ideal for video and well suited for some data applications. However, bandwidth, latency and two-way issues make this technology sub-optimal for certain data and most voice applications. Finally, wireless is well suited for many video, voice and data applications, but still faces technological hurdles such as line of sight, distance sensitivity and rain fade. We believe that each transmission infrastructure will eventually be able to accommodate nearly every type of application while delivering consistently high speeds. Commoditization of Transport The transportation of bits whether video, voice or data is rapidly becoming a commodity business. A liquid spot market for buying and selling capacity is already beginning to emerge. In the near term, providers will offer bandwidth on demand rather than a dedicated pipe and customers will pay only for what they actually use. The same market forces that have reduced the rates for long distance voice service should reduce the rates for Internet access. This process will start with narrowband, but over time, it should include broadband as well. (In fact, numerous firms already offer free dial-up access and generate revenue from advertising and commerce.) As technology improves operating costs decline, competition increases and penetration rises, Internet access will become a standard feature in any bundled offering of telecommunications services. From the provider s perspective, basic connectivity will become part of the ante necessary to play the game. We believe ISPs, CLECs and telcos will increasingly use a sliding scale to price access, with some customers getting it near cost provided they purchase sufficient higher-margin services as well. 12

13 But we will still need more Ironically, although the price of access and transport should fall over time, for the end user the optimal amount of bandwidth will always be a few hundred kilobits per second more than is currently available. Just as improvements in chip speed and processing power have led to more demanding computer applications, improvements in effective bandwidth will be matched by increases in bandwidth-intensive applications. A host of factors including rising penetration and usage rates, and a swelling volume of data traffic, convinces us that there will not be a glut of bandwidth in the near term. Demand for bandwidth The above all factors will drive the demand for bandwidth higher as more and more number of people get connected to the Internet. The global Internet demand as projected by Merrill Lynch across the regions is as follows. The growth expected in the Asia Pacific region is much higher than that of Western Europe and US. 13

14 Consolidation The ISP market is crowded. Boardwatch Data estimates that there are currently about 6,700 providers in the US. Fewer than 20 of them are publicly traded. Most ISPs are small (i.e., under 10,000 subscribers) and offer a limited range of services. However, players from both inside and outside the industry have started to consolidate the market Five principal factors are driving this consolidation: The race to achieve critical mass in the user distribution footprint The quest for better economies of scale and lower operating costs Increasing competition Greater capital requirements and The perceived need to offer a wider range of services. Many incumbents have grown larger while players in adjacent segments have bought their way into the market. For example, ISPs and Web-hosting firms have pursued roll ups of smaller providers to create national footprints with lower cost structures. CLECs have pursued ISPs in an effort to acquire data service capabilities. Backbone providers have also pursued ISPs to attract more customers to their networks. The long distance and international carriers could start acquiring ISPs to round out their service offerings. It is expected that competition will intensify over time, the large ISPs will grow larger and many small ISPs will get acquired or go out of business. Importance of Critical Mass The primary benefit of critical mass is lower operating costs. An ISP typically incurs significant fixed costs in terms of capital assets and personnel to build and operate a data network. However, the marginal cost to add another subscriber is small. In classic step function fashion, an ISP s marginal costs start to rise appreciably only when it must add POPs, regional data centers, servers, high-speed connections and backbone capacity. As in any business with this type of cost structure, scale is critical. Accordingly, most ISPs seek to grow their customer base both residential and commercial as large as possible. Critical mass can also yield other important benefits, including the following: 14

15 Allowing the firm to establish technical standards Causing customers to adopt a particular technology, which increases their switching costs Enabling the company to strike favorable (or even exclusive) deals with customers, suppliers or partners Helping the firm to move up the learning curve faster and Creating sufficient mindshare to make the company a partner/provider of choice Evolve or Perish Virtually every major company in the ISP sector is expanding beyond its original activities into adjacent sectors. In general, companies are trying to drive up the value chain within the sector. Local access providers are moving into the sector by becoming ISPs. Most ISPs offer at least basic web hosting. Some ISPs plan to push farther into applications as an ASP and into providing VAS. Some webhosters have also begun adding more specialized offers, to become ASPs. The following figure highlights this expansion up and down the value chain and illustrates the importance of maintaining nimble, responsive business plans. By expanding their range of activities, IIS operators 15

16 maximize their revenue per customer relationship. They also raise switching barriers for their customers who might consider moving to alternative vendors. Finally, they are expanding activities defensively to counteract full-line offerings provided by their competitors. Overall, applications revenue (including web hosting, ASP and content distribution) will grow significantly faster than connectivity over the next decade. The relative decline of connectivity will be offset in the second half of the forecast period by mobile access. This is demonstrated by the following graphs. Revenue Shares of Various Segments 16

17 Distribution of Revenue: Connectivity vs. Applications Dominant Strategy for ISPs The connectivity space should become increasingly competitive over the near term. As consolidation continues and the milestones noted above are achieved, we believe that a prototypical ISP strategy will emerge. Maximize Early Scale: Providers will focus on reaching critical mass in their distribution footprints through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions. The goal is to improve economies of scale through greater subscriber/pop densities, better geographic clustering, higher network utilization and lower customer acquisition costs. Broadband: ISPs will enable migration of users to broadband, which is innately sticky and commands a better margin than low-speed access. This should help drive profitability while reducing churn. 17

18 Business Clients: They will increase the relative proportion of commercial accounts in the customer base. The reason is that businesses are less price sensitive, less likely to churn and more likely to purchase higher-level services than consumers. Move Up the Value Chain: they will layer on a variety of fatter-margin offerings such as Web hosting, applications hosting, electronic commerce, co-location, unified messaging, telephony, VPNs, security, data storage and processing, etc. Invest in Intellectual Capital. Intellectual capital (IC) will be the ultimate determinant of winners. Few companies will be in the same business in 3 years. Evolving their business, developing new skills, and driving constant product innovation will require the best thinking and know-how. IC needs that cannot be met internally or through recruiting, should be met through acquisition. Differentiate with Quality. Sector leaders define quality and reliability metrics that followers must meet. They also actively research users needs to stay abreast of market requirements and survive technology cycles. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and other measures of Quality of Service (QOS) are expected to become available and become standard on an end-to-end basis. Adopt Technology-Agnostic Platforms. To adapt quickly as the Internet evolves, leaders will avoid becoming ensnared in legacy technology. Open standards should win over proprietary standards in most cases. At times, the standards debates may become tricky. Dominant players will maintain flexible stances, incorporating apparent standards early, but not committing to them before they are proven. Extend Connectivity to All Devices. Dominant industry players will deliver connectivity and applications that are independent of device or network type. PCs will become the minority access device in many markets within five years, with wireless Internet becoming a major market for almost every IIS player. Own the Edge. The edge of the Net is rapidly becoming the next key battleground in IIS. Connectivity providers must extend their networks there. Hosting companies must have hosting and caching capabilities at the edge. Content distributors are bringing the highest value to the edge through their caching, streaming and proprietary routing offerings. Without an edge strategy, IIS competitors will fade to insignificance. 18

19 Assure Continued Access to Capital. Keeping pace with the Internet s hypergrowth is likely to require ongoing investment for many years. We expect leading companies to tap the markets when capital is available, knowing there will be opportunities to deploy it advantageously. Execute Consistently. The hyper growth of the Internet enables competitors to quickly overtake frontrunners if they stumble. We also expect the stock market to not forgive companies that miss milestones or fail to execute consistently. This section covers the facts regarding the Internet penetration in India, the expected future growth rate of penetration. This would help an ISP have a broad idea of the volume and the origination of demand for net connectivity. The factors which determine the demand for net connectivity, the existing players, their subscriber base and the strategies adopted by them gives a clear picture of the ISP scene in India. The ISP market in India The Indian Internet services market remained a monopoly of VSNL until 1998 when the new ISP policy allowed the private sector to start offering its services. At this point in time, VSNL had just 170,000 subscribers till November This galvanized everyone, including VSNL, which still retains a healthy market share of 40% in the Internet access market. Since the opening of the ISP market in November 1998, India has seen over 150 new ISPs acquiring licenses and starting business either on regional or even national scale. Most importantly, the access cost/hour has come down from Rs55-75 (including dial-up costs) by over 50%. As a result, the user base has rapidly climbed to almost 1m Internet connections by March Thanks to low purchasing power and the lack of an adequate telecom infrastructure, the user to subscriber ratio is estimated at a high 4-5x and hence the user base is estimated at a healthier 4-5m. While there is not enough market currently for such large numbers of ISPs in the market, at least a vibrant market is being created through price competition and improving customer service levels, which would help grow the market rapidly. A growth rate of 150% in the user base from current base over the next year to 2.5m by March 2001 is expected. Thereafter, it is estimated that the Compounded Annual Growth Rate in Internet subscription should sustain at 19

20 about 78% up to 2004 when India would have about 10m Internet connections. This could translate into 30-40m users. Indian consumers are more discerning and value-conscious because of their low levels of income. Bargains always attract better consumer attention. The Internet offers not only efficiency gains, but also new services tailor-made for Indian consumers in areas where there has been acute shortage of services. India will have over about 10m Internet subscribers and a user base 3-4x the subscriber base by Of the 30-40m users, almost 80% would be casual users getting on to the web only occasionally. However, about 5m web users are likely to be using it on a more consistent basis. However, the Indian Internet market is still in its infancy. Before getting down to explore the Internet investment ideas, it is important to understand the typical demographics in India, which will be a key potential growth driver of the Internet market. This section deals with the growth opportunities for the Internet in India and puts it in the regional and global context. Since 2H95, when VSNL first launched the commercial Internet services in India, the Internet has come a long way in India and currently over 175 ISPs have licenses to offer services. Of these, 10% have already begun their operations. As over 55% of current Internet access is through offices and over 30% through cyber cafés; relatively lower PC penetration in India is not expected to be a major deterrent to growth of Internet usage. With the fast development and convergence of technologies, voice, data and video could eventually be transmitted through the same medium. This implies that a common device can be used not only for accessing the Internet, but also for telephone (or videophone), fax and TV. According to Sun Microsystems vision of key technology trends in the future, 50% of global Internet access in 2002 will be through non-pc devices. This implies that new devices like cellular phones and information kiosks could further add to Internet penetration. With hardly any lead-time now for introduction of emerging new technologies into India, more effective and cost efficient systems have the potential to help significantly in developing a relatively under-developed Internet market in India. 20

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