More and more Indians are becoming Net savvy and harnessing the power of the Internet. According to a study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the Internet user base in the country grew by 54 per cent to reach 38.5 million users in 2005 from just 25 million in the previous year.
E-commerce, too, has registered an impressive growth. Currently, the total e-commerce market in India is estimated at Rs 1,180 crore (2005-06), which is estimated to grow to Rs 2,300 crore by 2006-07, an over 100 per cent increase.
The diffusion of the Internet and its associated applications (e-governance, e-commerce, e-banking, e-learning, etc.) will play a crucial role in fueling economic growth. Internet significantly facilitates the process of development of nations and its citizens in all respects – be it economic, social, or cultural.
The impact of the Broadband policy is evident from these growth figures. The policy has helped bring down Broadband prices to as low as Rs 199 per month, which has ushered in Net penetration across the country. This Internet growth can also be attributed to the IT and Telecom Ministry’s focused pursuit of introducing sub-10K PCs in association with hardware manufacturers, thereby enabling the common man to overcome the first hurdle of accessing the Net.
To overcome the hurdle of content in regional languages the IT and Telecom Ministry has already kicked off several initiatives towards development of language fonts.
Moreover, reduction in license fees and revenue sharing agreement from 15 per cent to 6 per cent has enabled players like GAILTEL, RAILTEL and POWERGRID to come together to address the growing demand of broadband connectivity.
Add to this the growing ‘.IN’ registrations, where 15,0000 registrations have been received till date, reinforces India’s expertise in hosting Root Servers.
India is already witnessing a huge jump in VoIP traffic. This has been possible due to the liberalisation of telecom license fees and legalising of VoIP within networks. VoIP is expected to play a crucial role in increasing the Internet user base, and as competition grows, VoIP will witness further lowering of rates, enabling more consumers to use the Internet for their benefit.
Commenting on this growth, Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister for IT and Telecom, said, “We have ambitious goals regarding Internet access and are providing all support to attain them. The Government is making concerted efforts with a clear emphasis on the importance of affordable broadband for the advancement of society and for the benefit of Indians, especially in rural and remote areas. We are continuously evaluating policies, which will help increase competition and bring down prices as well as increase access speeds. Our aim is to achieve critical mass across the country with a special impetus in the rural and remote areas and envision an ‘India’, where every Indian can take advantage of this technology.”
According to Preeti Desai, President, IAMAI, “Pro-active government support and recurring online activities have driven more and more Indians to reach out to the Internet regularly. The increasing usage of the Net can be attributed to growing dependence on online communication, online content and e-commerce. E-mails (98 per cent) and chat have become a ubiquitous part of online Indians’ daily routine. Services like Net banking (32 per cent), bill payments (18 per cent), stock trading (15 per cent), job search (51 per cent), matrimonial search (15 per cent) have seen tremendous rise in usage.”