This was the column that began my Tech Talk columns in November 2000. It was a vision to get India to 100 million Internet users in 3 years. Ten years later, we are still at only half that number. This is what I wrote then:
There are 5 components to building a mass market Internet and making it a utility service:
– Access Device: Multiple options are becoming possible for accessing the Net. What will be the mode of access? Will it be the PC, TV or cellphone?
– Access Network: The telephone company still makes Rs 25/hour when we connect to the Net — significantly more than the ISP itself! Are there alternatives?
– Community Centres: 1 million telephone lines going into PCOs serve the communications needs of 75% of India. Can something similar happen with the Internet in India?
– Payment Systems: Few Indians (about 3 million) have credit cards, fewer are keen on using them on the Net! Can we eliminate billing and use pre-paid? Are smart cards the answer?
– Applications and Services: How many Indian sites make you visit them daily?