TECH TALK: Tech Trends: India Action: Invest in Broadband and the Internet

India can be a big beneficiary from the commodisiting of IT. A combination of technologies has the potential to bring down the cost of computing down to Rs 700 ($15) or so a month for hardware, software, support and connectivity. This is the key to opening up access to tens of millions of Indian families, students and employees.

Investing in the Internet and broadband is as important as investments in roads, ports and airports. The digital infrastructure needs to be built to complement the physical infrastructure in India. One of the biggest missing factors in India is the availability of broadband. A recent TRAI report on recommendation for increasing the penetrating of the Internet and accelerating deployment of broadband in India says: While internet growth rates in India have been flat, and at times declining over the past three years, other countries like Korea, China and Malaysia have been doubling and tripling the size of their internet and broadband subscriber base. India currently has 0.4 internet connections and 0.02 broadband connections per 100 persons, while Korea has 25 and China has 1.4 broadband connections per 100 persons, with its current level 50% higher than what it was just six months ago. Korea has achieved its success story in a span of less than five years, going from less than 1 broadband subscriber per 100 persons in 1999 to the levels it has reached today. By 2002, nearly 30% of their GDP was transacted on broadband. The lessons that India learns from these examples can be applied to our current situation to realize the same explosive success.

India needs competition and investment in the newest broadband technologies to bring down the artificially high tariffs estimated to be 1200 times more expensive as compared to South Korea on a GDP per capita comparison. A mix of technologies like DSL, wireless, cable and satellite can help in building out the broadband infrastructure in India. Having an affordable always-on connection will transform the way people use computers. This will provide the necessary fillip for the creation of local and relevant content and software.

As the broadband infrastructure comes into place, enterprises in India need to start thinking of 1:1 computing a connected computer for every employee. This also necessitates rethinking of their business: how would workflows and processes be different with a computer on every desktop? Answering this question and putting in the right solutions internally will help boost productivity in Indias industrial sector, especially among the small- and medium-sized enterprises. Today, even email is not considered as a mission-critical application in many enterprises. This is the mindset that needs to change with the commoditisation of IT.

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Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.