ETH has adopted a mission to spread IT education and IT enabled education to 20,000 schools in Maharashtra. This would help circumvent the emerging divide between the information-rich and the information-poor, ETH Research Lab and Dishnet Chairman Vijay Bhatkar claims. He was the founder executive director of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and is widely acknowledges as the father of Indian supercomputing. "In our mission of nation building, we will make an ETH connection unimaginably accessible,'' Dr Bhatkar said adding ''It is our firm belief that intelligence, like other gift of nature, should be made available to one and all." With a total investment of Rs 4 billion, Dishnet, Dr Bhatkar says, has made technology partnerships with global players like the Microsoft, Compaq and Intel to provide multi-tier Internet network, delivery of education via 'Net access centres' and also have access through cable through a tie-up with Pune-based 'Silicon mountain'. Claiming ubiquitous presence and its service with a low tariff, Dr Bhatkar said Dishnet, even before its formal launch, has attracted around 2,000 bookings. Maintaining a strong focus on cutting-edge technologies, competitive pricing, innovative marketing, active promotions and strategic alliances with ancillary service providers, Dishnet hopes to capture 20 per cent of the market and have a turnover of Rs 250 million during the first year of 1999-2000. It is looking at a Rs 8 billion turnover during the fifth year of operation on a total investment of Rs 4 billion.
The service is being initially launched in Pune. Operations would soon begin in Madras on April 14, in Bombay on May 1 and in June in New Delhi and gradually spread to Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad by this yearend during the first phase and then spread to major town in the following years. To a question, Dr Bhatkar said as a commitment, Dishnet would provide the service free-of-cost to educational institutions at the rate of one per school. Curriculam for tenth, twelfth standards examination by the Maharashtra Board, the ICSC and Central Board of Secondary Education are being readied for the state of Maharashtra. For other states, similar courses would be taken up through tie-ups, he said. Dishnet, Dr Bhatkar said, brings to its subscribers, both new initiatives as well as demanding professionals, a whole range of comprehensive Internet services through the Microsoft Commercial Internet Suite (MCIS 2.0).