IT superpower India sees internet users drop by 3 million

Started by dhilipkumar, Apr 05, 2009, 02:21 AM

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dhilipkumar

IT superpower India sees internet users drop by 3 million

India's political parties maybe busy creating blogs and launching e-campaigns ahead of the general elections, but the Indian netizen league is a depleting force.

The world's largest democracy, which is one of the largest emerging economies and an IT superpower, has seen its number of internet users drop by 3 million in a year to 47 million in January 2009, according to a survey by New Delhi-based online research company JuxtConsult.

Blame it on the strict policing of cyber cafes following misuse by terror groups to send threatening emails and spread propaganda, as well as the poor progress India has made in broadband connectivity. With cyber cafes making photo identity cards mandatory to access the Web, the number of cafe users more than halved to 2.2 million in January from 4.5 million a year earlier, said the study, India Online 2009. According to Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), the number of cyber cafes in India has dropped from 235,000 in 2006 to 180,000 in 2008. The period saw a couple of large internet service providers --Tata Nova, which had 1,000 cafes, and Dishnet DSL, with 700 cafes -- shutting shop.

"Many ISPs closed down because of the change in laws which prohibited them from offering VPN (virtual private networking) services under ISP licence," ISPAI president Rajjesh Chharia said. The country's largest internet provider Sify alone closed down about 500 cafes in the last 12 months. "We had about 2,500 cyber cafes till a year back. Now they are down to almost 2,000," Sify president for infrastructure Naresh Ajwani said. He said most franchisees surrendered their licences because of police harassment.

"During the internet boom, it was a sign of technological entrepreneurship to open a cyber caf, in a small town or village. Now it's more of a stigma, with the local police visiting your shop every other day demanding a bribe," an executive of an internet service provider said on condition of anonymity.

Also, one needs a no-objection certificate from local police to open a cyber caf, in most parts of the country. In Maharshtra, it requires the approval of local health department because there is the word 'caf,'! Experts also blame lack of push from the government and telecom operators to spread broadband as well as poor local content for the fall in internet user base.

According to telecom regulator Trai, about 2 lakh new broadband connections were added in February 2009, but the JuxtConsult survey said the new broadband connections were mostly replacement by dial-up users. "There is lack of user experience. Internet content in India is not available in regional languages. Moreover with an economic slowdown, there is lack of push for online gaming clubs," said Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT) executive director Vinnie Mehta. "Whereas a TV offers localised content and entertainment, internet in India does not," said Desi Valli, COO of Net4, India's second largest ISP. "Once IP telephony and IPTV kicks in fully, we might see an increase in number of subscribers," he adds.


According to the JuxtConsult survey, only 13% internet users in India prefer to read content in English.

"Globally, countries having high internet penetration have the government behind them as the major investor," said David Belson, director of market intelligence at Massachusetts-based Akamai Technologies, a US-based internet services platform provider.

According to a global survey by Akamai, India ranked 118 globally for broadband penetration, with 0.0001 broadband IPs (Internet Protocol addresses) per capita in the last quarter of 2008.

Interestingly, BJP has broadband in its election manifesto. The party, which is a clear leader in e-campaigning this year, has promised to provide broadband internet at a speed of 2 mbps in every town and village if it comes to power. Another survey by World Economic Forum and INSEAD released this month, ranks India at 60th position in terms of internet access in schools. It ranked India 68th in terms of monthly broadband subscription charge as a percentage of monthly GDP per capita. A broadband connection is now available at about Rs 250 per month, much lower than and average ARPU from a prepaid mobile subscriber in India. The issue of unbundling of local loop of BSNL to promote more competition in broadband penetration in rural areas is lying on the table even after Trai's repeated recommendations. Trai's recommendations to open unrestricted IP telephony have also found resistance from mobile operators.

There have been many suggestions like tax sops on money spent on broadband subscription for citizens but none have been implemented, so far. Meanwhile, the Rs 25,000 crore lying in USO (Universal Service Obligation) fund, which can be used for subsiding rural internet, is also lying idle.

So, before you launch that e-campaign, think again.


indiatimes

sakunthala

with shutoff the internet india have more user but it have lessing now
with have more threat and safety regular this should damage the many small company

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