India Survey Shows Demand For Half Million Accounts

There is an immediate demand of around 500,000 new Internet connections
in India, according to a survey conducted by the National Association
of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom).

At present, there are about 250,000 Internet subscribers in the country.
The survey estimates a demand of 1.5 million connections by the end of
the year 2000.

However, the number of Internet users will be four
times more than that of subscribers. E-commerce is fast becoming an important part of corporate strategy.

More than 80 percent of the top 100 corporate respondents
covered by the study said that e-commerce and Internet are integral to
their corporate strategic framework.

According to the study, commercial transaction over the Internet was to
the tune of Rs 12 crore (US$2.8 million) during 1998-99.

The survey
expects this to touch Rs 30 crore (US$7 million) during the current
financial year.

More than 88 percent of the corporate sites are based in the US, the
survey says.

Nasscom has urged the Indian government to install an
Internet exchange to encourage setting up of Internet sites in the

Once such an exchange is in place, local traffic will not have
to go through the US.

“This will save valuable foreign exchange and also cut the cost of the
bandwidth required to access information on the Net,” said Nasscom
president Dewang Mehta.

Mehta said that Nasscom will set up a National Internet Center of
Excellence (NICE) to promote digital content development in India. NICE
will also lay down standards for local content building and delivery.

The survey says that though there are currently about 250,000
subscribers in the country, the actual number of Internet users is
about 800,000.

“This easily surpasses the world standard of
account users multiple of 1:3,” the survey points out.

Currently, there is an installed PC base of 3 million in the country.
About 1.9 million of these PCs can support Internet operations, the
survey says.

Nasscom has identified local content development as a major opportunity
for the domestic software industry.

“Localization of contents is one
of the most important task before the government. There is an urgent
need to quickly devise standards and scripts for development of content
in Indian languages. These standards should be in conformity with
international standards,” says the survey.

Mehta, who is also the member spokesperson of the National IT Task
Force set up by the prime minister, said that one of the reasons for
the growth of Internet in the country is the positive attitude of the
department of telecommunications (DoT).

“We are happy that DoT has acted very promptly in notifying 15 of the
18 recommendations of the first task force report,” he said.

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