India has Not 1 but 3 Digital Divides

India seems to have three digital divides:

1. Between those who can afford to access the Internet and those too poor (and therefore lack the awareness) to access the net
2. Between urban and rural areas
3. Between those who have a decent broadband (high speed) Internet connection and those who don’t

A new report (India Online 2008) puts India’s Internet user base at a pitifully low 49.4 million with 82% of online India coming from urban areas and the rest from rural areas.

The study from Research and Markets is said to be based on a survey of 12,000 households in 40 cities and 4,000 households in 160 villages.

If the study is accurate, Internet penetration in India is a tiny 4.5% of the total population (various studies put the U.S. Internet penetration rate between 66%-70%).

According to the survey, nearly 90% of regular Internet users accessing the net from home or workplace in India do so daily while only 33% of cybercafe based Internet users access the net daily.

Not surprisingly, Internet users from home tend to be heavier online users compared to their use of traditional and offline mediums like newspaper, TV and radio.

Broadband Scenario Grim
According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, India had a mere 4.73 million broadband Internet subscribers at the end of August 2008 (we suspect even this number is an exaggeration and much of it of poor quality).

Most broadband subscribers in India currently access the Internet via DSL or cable (both unreliable if you go by the several complaints on various forums).

The situation is worse when you realize that broadband in India is defined by the bozos at Telecom Regulatory Authority of India as greater than equal to a mere 256 Kbps.

2 Responses to "India has Not 1 but 3 Digital Divides"

  1. avikd   October 20, 2008 at 3:13 am

    Broadband situation in India is grim? I think I will have to disagree with you on that. Although the number of subscribers is still quite low, it has gone up very fast. The growth rate is quite high. There will always be complaints but I use BSNL broadband and I have no major complaints. Yes, a 256 Kbps connection is considered to be broadband in India but BSNL provides a 1 Mbps connection for Rs. 250 and 2Mbps connection for Rs. 500. These two plans are used by the majority of the people in India. Many new private companies are also entering this business. I’m not trying to start an argument I’m just saying that the situation has improved, although India is still miles behind China in terms of Broadband internet access. Responds:

    1. We don’t know how the broadband picture can’t be grim if there are only 4.73 million broadband subscribers.
    2. Second, we don’t agree with the TRAI definition of 256Kbps as broadband.
    3. We agreee with you that there is some improvement but the overall broadband subscriber base is still so low and the pace of growth too slow.

  2. shuaib68   October 21, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Something tells me that the so called development is reaching the less affluent at a snail’s pace.

    So, what is this talk about reaching the pinnacle of power “The Super Power” ambition??? Is it achievable at the current state of affairs in the financial sector turmoil howering over everybody alike? Responds:

    Development in India is so lopsided.

    We doubt this trickle-down thing is working well…if it did, we wouldn’t have these Maoist/Naxalite attacks in various parts of the country.

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