Assocham‘s latest report on broadband numbers might dampen the excitement of internet growth in India. But I wouldn’t be too worried. At times, the media takes things to an extreme. I have heard people asking “Is the internet a myth in India?”. With confidence, I say “No, it is not a myth. Finally, it is a reality in India”.
I have seen the traffic grow to our portals (Oneindia.in) from 2006. Especially from Tier-II cities. Agreed, it is not earth-shattering and I don’t see any smoke coming out of the routers but it is a very good and encouraging beginning. The Comscore India report put the Indian Internet penetration rate at 3% with the total user base at 22 million. The growth will only be exponential – we are all working for the “future” users of the internet as the number of users who potentially will use the internet is far larger than the current 22 million.
Veer has mentioned one good point in his blog. Languages are needed on the internet. I strongly believe in languages on the internet and luckily I am in that space. I do agree with Assocham’s report that the PC cost can (and is a) be a hindrance in the growth of the internet in India. We have seen the price coming down over the last 2 years but it has to reduce a lot more. It is a classic chicken and egg problem – the PC vendors are not reducing the price as it will hurt their margins, buyers are not buying as it is expensive. PC vendors need to take the first step forward – reduce the price drastically and within a year they will see the sales soaring.
One of the reasons for BSNL not being able to meet their projections is lack of hardware. Sounds bizzare but it is true. I know several users waiting for over 4-5 months waiting for their BSNL broadband connection. The exit of Dayanadi Maran hasn’t helped the image of Internet and Telecom in India for sure.
Telecom operators are now targeting IPTV. IPTV refers to a system where a digital television service is delivered to a subscriber using the Internet Protocol over a broadband connection. We shouldn’t be overly worried about the “fading of broadband” in India. IPTV is being offered by MTNL for Rs 90/month in few cities. IPTV will take off only if broadband takes off. So Telecom operators will do everything to make broadband a reality in India.