A Bright Dig­i­tal Fu­ture

In­dia is now ranked as the third largest in­ter­net-us­ing coun­try in the world. This bodes well for the fu­ture.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Muham­mad Omar Iftikhar

In­dia has be­come the third largest in­ter­net-us­ing

coun­try in the world.

In­dia re­cently cre­ated his­tory in the dig­i­tal world by be­com­ing the third largest in­ter­net-us­ing coun­try, af­ter China and the U.S. In­ter­est­ingly, three­fourths of In­dia’s on­line pop­u­la­tion is be­low 35 – sig­nif­i­cantly younger than in­ter­net users in other emerg­ing economies.

Ac­cord­ing to comS­core, a global dig­i­tal man­age­ment and an­a­lyt­ics firm, In­dia now has nearly 74 mil­lion in­ter­net users, a 31 per­cent in­crease from March 2012. The Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of In­dia (TRAI) has revealed another in­ter­est­ing point: un­til March 2013, there were nearly 164.81 mil­lion in­ter­net sub­scribers in In­dia, with seven out of eight ac­cess­ing the in­ter­net from their mo­bile phones.

How­ever, comS­core says that mo­bile and tablet-based in­ter­net traf­fic in In­dia is just 14 per­cent while the re­main­ing traf­fic is via desk­top com­put­ers and lap­tops. The sharp rise in in­ter­net users from March 2012 sig­ni­fies In­dia’s ef­forts to im­prove its ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem and spread lit­er­acy. More­over, In­dia has been pro­mot­ing ed­u­ca­tion across the coun­try and has a lit­er­acy rate of 74 per­cent – the third high­est amongst South Asian na­tions, with the Mal­dives (93.8 per­cent) and Sri Lanka (91.2 per­cent) hold­ing the high­est and sec­ond-high­est po­si­tions, re­spec­tively.

Com­par­ing male and fe­male in­ter­net users in In­dia, sources claim that men under 35 and women be­tween 35 and 44 are reg­u­lar in­ter­net users. How­ever, women ac­count for less than 40 per­cent of all In­dian users, a ra­tio less than other coun­tries. Fur­ther­more, comS­core also revealed that in­ter­net users in In­dia spend a quar­ter of their time on the so­cial me­dia, of which nearly 23 per­cent is spent on com­mu­ni­cat­ing via email.

Lately, on­line dom­i­nance has shifted to­wards Asia where In­dia is lead­ing the South Asian re­gion. More­over, Asia ac­counts for 41 per­cent of all in­ter­net users in the world. This shows that there is still am­ple room for de­vel­op­ment. Fur­ther­more, In­dia is gear­ing to be­come the leader in in­ter­net us­age and is al­ready a key player in the global soft­ware mar­ket. Most western com­pa­nies out­source their projects to In­dia and the coun­try ex­pe­ri­enced mush­room growth of call cen­ters in the last decade, which has aug­mented in­ter­net traf­fic orig­i­nat­ing from In­dia.

In­dia’s fast grow­ing in­ter­ne­tus­ing pop­u­la­tion also hints at its tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment. The coun­try has been mov­ing ahead in the tele­com and IT sec­tors and has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in space re­search and nu­clear tech­nol­ogy, giv­ing it a clear edge over other South Asian na­tions.

Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment has paved the way for the coun­try’s progress and has also ben­e­fit­ted in­di­vid­ual in­ter­net users who can now com­mu­ni­cate with any­one around the globe through wire­less ser­vices and Voice over In­ter­net Pro­to­col (VoIP). More­over, the In­dian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor is pro­vid­ing users with low-priced in­ter­net cov­er­age, which has made un­lim­ited video calls and voice calls al­most free.

The growth of in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion in In­dia has also re­sulted in an in­crease in the num­ber of mo­bile phone users. As of April 2013, there were nearly 900 mil­lion mo­bile users in In­dia, mak­ing it a coun­try with the world’s sec­ond high­est ra­tio of mo­bile-phone users.

The In­dian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor is also mak­ing ef­forts to in­crease in­ter­net speed, hence al­low­ing for faster brows­ing and down­load­ing. Mov­ing a step fur­ther from 3G tech­nol­ogy, In­dia is ready to in­tro­duce 4G In­ter­net that will pro­vide higher data speed, in­ter­net Pro­to­col Television (IPTV) sup­port, high-speed brows­ing, en­hanced au­dio-video stream­ing and video con­fer­enc­ing sup­port.

In­dia’s cor­po­rate sec­tor will also reap the ben­e­fits of 4G tech­nol­ogy that will fur­ther in­crease the coun­try’s in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion, which cur­rently stands at nearly 12 per­cent while that of China is 40.1 per­cent.

Although In­dia’s in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion is grow­ing, it is also af­fect­ing the price of in­ter­net fa­cil­i­ties. Sources say In­dian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies may raise in­ter­net rates

by 30 per­cent. The ris­ing cost is as­so­ci­ated with the new tele­com li­censes re­cently is­sued by In­dia's De­part­ment of Tele­com. Under these new agree­ments, tele­com op­er­a­tors, in­clud­ing In­ter­net Ser­vice Providers (ISPs), are re­quired to pay 8 per­cent an­nu­ally on their ad­justed gross rev­enue (AGR).

Although a pos­si­ble in­crease in in­ter­net prices may af­fect users in some ways, it will not af­fect those who are surf­ing the World Wide Web through their smart­phones. A fairly large num­ber of In­di­ans now use the in­ter­net on smart­phones, to get the best of in­ter­net pack­ages of­fered by cel­lu­lar ser­vices. Fur­ther­more, in­ter­net users in In­dia are go­ing in a big way for smart­phonesones be­cause non-stop ac­cess to the in­ter­net­nter­net is fast be­com­ing a ne­ces­sity, as users, es­pe­cially en­trepreneurs, need to be in touch with their clients and col­leagues all the time. More­over, com­muters spend many hours in trav­el­ing ev­ery day and choose to while away their time on the in­ter­net.

With the youth form­ing a ma­jor part of In­dia’s in­ter­net pop­u­la­tion, the coun­try’s in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion is ex­pected to in­crease in the com­ing years. The ru­ral ar­eas are also likely to ben­e­fit from these tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments, es­pe­cially with the ar­rival of 4G tech­nol­ogy, which will cre­ate jobs, thus im­prov­ing the stan­dard of liv­ing of the com­mon man. It would prob­a­bly be right to say that the coun­try has a bright fu­ture in the dig­i­tal world.

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