Best Indian Blog, says Mediaah

Pradyuman Maheshwari says I have the best Indian weblog. “Hands down winner…Rajesh Jains Emergic.org is by far the best. It covers issues on technology and technobusiness like no one else does not just in India, but I wouldnt hesitate to say across the world. It is also evident that Rajesh puts in a helluva lot of time and personal time into the site. If youve got even the slightest interest in technology and want to keep abreast of the latest, bookmark Emergic.”

Thanks, Pradyuman – who himself has an excellent blog on the Indian media.

On a related story, it was nice to see one of my other babies – Samachar.com – finish in the top 5 in the News category. Samachar is now 6.5 years old. Just for the record, Emergic is 1.5 years old.

Cellphone Service Innovation

NYTimes (via News.com) writes about a Philippines company which has launched a prepaid service called Smart Buddy:

Gazo, a 33-year-old housewife who lives 600 miles south of Manila in Davao City, is one of more than 100,000 mobile phone users who re-sell Smart’s cellular services through a new prepaid service called Smart Buddy e-Load. With a special $20 chip for her mobile phone, Gazo can transfer bits of air time to her friends’ and acquaintances’ phones–as little as 55 cents (30 pesos) worth.

For every $18.29 in air time she sells, Gazo collects $2.74 in commissions, turning her mobile phone into a second source of income for her family of four. “If I can earn 150 pesos a day,” Gazo said, “I don’t have to work.”

Since Smart began the program in May, Smart Buddy has exploded in popularity, giving the company a more inexpensive way of distributing service to the country’s poorest, most remote neighborhoods and villages. The first such service of its kind, Smart Buddy marries the latest in cellular commerce with a much older marketing concept of miniature packaging that helped bring middle-class amenities to developing countries decades ago.

Philippines has led the way in cellphone usage – its use of SMS is highest in the world.

Broadband in Japan

WSJ writes about Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, who is at the helm of the broadband revolution in Japan. Son was also one of the earliest investors in the Web.

Four years ago, only a fifth of Japan’s population of 127 million used the Internet, mostly through slow, expensive dial-up services. That figure has since doubled, and high-speed, or broadband, usage is soaring amid a price war that Mr. Son launched.

Japan had 11.8 million high-speed Internet subscribers as of August, up more than sevenfold from 1.6 million two years earlier. That gives it a broadband penetration rate of almost 10%, around U.S. levels.

Mr. Son’s Softbank has yet to make a yen from its broadband service, known as Yahoo BB…The market leader with three million subscribers, Softbank is still losing money on its broadband business — $264.5 million during the April-June quarter alone. Mr. Son says he plans to raise revenue while maintaining rock-bottom prices for Internet access by charging fees for new extra services, from video-on-demand to online gaming. But he’s vague on when the business will actually turn a profit.

Japan’s broadband race shows no signs of slowing. In July, Softbank unveiled a 26-megabit service. On Oct. 1, eAccess announced it would start the world’s first 40-megabit ADSL service, even as most U.S. ADSL providers are still struggling to offer 1.5 megabits per second. NTT East is expected to be close behind. Softbank won’t say whether it will follow suit.

The technology being used is ADSL.

Bandwidth is so critical. It can be a major productivity enhancer. In Mumbai, we pay USD 220 a month for an ADSL connection with 192 Kbps downstream and 64 Kbps downstream. I can only imagine – bandwidth in India is at least 100 times more expensive as compared to Japan or the US or South Korea. Most of us in India have never experienced broadband connecvitity. I keep seeing and reading about the telecom revolution. How about providing multi-megabit pipes for less than USD 50 a month – that will be the real revolution in India.