The Internet infrastructure in India is still at a nascent stage, and needs significant investments in building out. The question is: are they returns on these investments?
Internet infrastructure combines the network within India, bandwidth and connectivity to the world, and data centres. Consumers in India get reasonable connectivity. In fact, for most of us, in terms of per capita connectivity, there is more available if we connect directly to the Internet than go via the office network. Therein lies the challenge. Corporates are the ones who will pay for connectivity: they are the ones who want to network offices, dealers, suppliers and customers. Yet, in India, there are no cost-effective, rapidly implementable, high bandwidth last mile solutions. This is the need of the hour, and where the near-term opportunity lies.
Why is this important? The Internet is all about enabling lower-cost communications, business is all about exchanging information across enterprises. The two need to be combined. Rock-solid Connectivity is the fundamental building block for all kinds of e-business applications which can spur the usage of the Net among corporates. Without having all of a company’s employees online all the time, it becomes very difficult to implement solutions covering b2b or b2c commerce for enterprises. An enterprise needs to be networked internally first. This is where bandwidth scarce.
The multi-year gap between India and other countries in terms of LAN-WAN connectivity refuses to go away – our LAN speeds are state-of-the-art, but our WAN speeds are still many years behind the world. India needs low-cost, high-bandwidth availability to corporates across the country if the e-business revolution has to take off. Internet companies which can enable this will have a good starting point for a relationship with their customers.
The way the Internet is perceived changes completely if a high-speed, always-on Internet is available to organizations: now they can start thinking of the Electronic, Extended Enterprise, connecting themselves to their dealers, suppliers, customers and partners. Connectivity solutions will spur usage of data centres also, as corporates realize that they cannot manage their entire IT infrastructure by themselves. It will also open markets for Application Service Providers (ASPs), and other software and ecommerce infrastructure products and services.
So, companies in the Internet infrastructure space need to focus on the most important problem and the one which has the highest possibility of generating profit, since that is what enterprises will pay for: reliable, high-speed connectivity.