Have a look at the statistic below – try and find where India figures on this list that ranks countries on the basis of Average Broadband Speed.
Surprised? A supposed hub of International technology development does not even figure on this list. Until August 2005, India did not even have a route server. It thus took 500 milli-seconds to transmit Internet content. Now, it takes only five milli-seconds. This shows that the picture is not all grim but the country still needs to invest heavily in Internet infrastructure so that the fruits of the boons of the Internet are tasted by the average Indian user.
Part of the problem lies with the fact that most of India’s bandwidth is held by 3 big players – Bharati, Reliance, and MTNL/ VSNL. So there is a tendency to maximize returns in terms of what is already held.
The lack of Broadband speed has direct implications on the Indian internet services industry because they are restricted in terms of innovation. While the World is now dappling in concepts such as IPTv, Software as a Service, VoIP (virtually free telephony) etc, Indian IT service providers have to contend with issues such “will the page open at all and if it does will the user be able to enjoy the services we look to offer”.
It must also be noted that by definition, true broadband is 256 kbps dedicated (not shared 1/8). Thus, keeping in mind the price wars and fragmented service offerings of our cable operators, one really wonders how many of us in India are actually using broadband services.
In the future, most, if not all applications will be Internet based. Many applications will be free, funded by advertising. I also see a growing industry for secure, paid, ad free online SAAS applications. In such a scenario, it is crucial that the government capitalizes on these growing trends and deregulates the bandwidth holdings in the country (to drive efficiency) and also invests more in ensuring higher average broadband speeds.
Internet in India can then truly start becoming interactive and utilitarian. I also think that higher average speeds will do a lot of good to the Indian Internet Entrepreneurs.
I also want to take this opportunity to draw your attention to a few facts than I got from pluGGd.in
- As of August 2007, the total broadband connection in India was only 2.56 million (projected figures for 2007 = 9 million)
- The govt.’s earlier projection was to get 3 million subscribers by 2005!
Again to truly generate returns from the Indian Internet Services industry, more users are needed to capitalize on the growing pool of talent that already exists. If no one wants to use the services of Tech entrepreneurs, the industry will lose then as they are more than likely to migrate to another (better paid) industry.
Venture Capitalists take note – you would do more good to yourselves and the industry if you invested in infrastructure technologies rather than financing clones that give innovation in India a bad name.
Grow the pie first; then think about taking your share!