Internet for the masses in India

Posted: July 1, 2009 in Entrepreneur, Internet, IT, Mobile, Mobility, Netcore, Social Networking
Tags: , , , ,

A few days back, Rajesh Jain, MD, Netcore Solutions Pvt. Ltd. based in Mumbai, started a discussion on Facebook on “Mass Market Internet” talking about on the options we have for getting the millions of potential users on Internet who today either don’t have a medium to access Internet or a promising application to attract their loyalty. I wrote to him about my thoughts and below is the portion of email that I wrote to him:-

Internet Users:
Talking about Internet users, from my perspective there can be two broad category of Internet users.
 
The first ones are those people who make a consicous effort to connect themselves to the Internet and use applications delivered via the web. These are the users who are the only types of Internet users existing in India today. However the second category, which form the majority, will be those users who will be consumers of applications delivered via the web, but they may or may not realize about their connectivity to the web. From my perspective they are still Internet users as they still consume applications via the web. For them its like a service through cellphone, if you have the network you can make a call, if you have the connection you can access the application. The second category of users are the users who are illiterate or lack computer knowledge. But from this vast majority a sizeable number of them do use cellphones. For these users educating them of computers is a lengthy and expensive process, probably more expensive than setting up the Internet access infrastructure in place. For these users, a computer keyboard is more complicated to use rather than the keyboard of a cellphone or the remote control of a TV.
To get the numbers of Internet users in India to a higher point, it is important that the second category of users come online and start consuming applications regardless they know about it or not.

Medium of access:
Internet penetration not only in remote places or villages, but in small and medium towns in India is still a bottle neck. In these places, the dial-up is still the primary medium of access. Also in some of the places, the telephone exchanges have very limited capacity and the lines are prone to noise and interference. In such places, better Internet experience can be achieved through satellite Internet. At least better than dial up.

Access Device:
Television and the cellphones are the devices which have the most penetration in our country and these two are the devices, which are capable of delivering applications via Internet.
 
 
Type of Application:
From my perspective, interactive and entertainment applications will be the primary driving factor for Internet usage. Today, social networking sites are the most visited websites as they let you interact with other users in a variety of way. Even though video hosting is expensive, there are many sites which provide access to entertainment videos as there is a tremendous demand for it.
 
So what would be the type of applications.

Example 1. Consider a house or community which has a satellite television and Internet delivered via satellite (the connection can be a DTH connection). Apart from the standard channels, the user can tune into Netflix Internet TV by just click of a remote.
 
Example 2. Emails has been used via Internet since a long time now, consider a service which lets users send small emails as text messages to cellphone. So I can send an email to <mydadnumber>@provider.com which actually goes to an application on the email server which in turn splits the email (if needed) and sends it as an SMS to the end user, when the end user replies (keeping the subject intact) his reply is converted back in to an email and delivered in to the inbox of the original sender.

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