India: Service Providers and Rural Village Connectivity
There is no doubt that service providers will play a key role in reaching rural villages in India where approximately 70% of the population is located. Work has been underway for sometime to use broadband-based kiosks for farmers in conveying crop information; or establishing e-education centers to boost literacy and so on. I was in India in 2004 the day the country launched its broadband policy and I witnessed the corresponding excitement around the hope of the technology to connect a nation and beyond. There are a plethora of projects that target broadband penetration in India’s rural villages, some of which are described on Frost & Sullivan’s web site .Companies like Reliance Communications have been on the forefront providing services to rural villages. In fact, Reliance Communications announced in May 2007 that it would provide services to over 2,34,000 villages (2 Lakh and 34,000; 1 Lakh = 100,000 in what is to be”the World’s largest and fastest Rural Infrastructure project.”Cisco and BT have recently partnered to assist OneWorld in the Lifelines India project, a telephone-based information service for rural farming communities in India. With such ICTs and the depth of their extension to our”connected world,” we now see the opportunity for user-created content that may be driven by websites, blogs, wikis -, the Web 2.0 environment indeed! Whether it is empowering the farmer in India with tele-kiosks that provide weather and crop updates; or, providing an e-education center for students in Kerala, the IP Transformationis common to this processFinally, we are witnessing the tip of the iceberg in opportunities for Indian Service Providers to be the catalysts of digital inclusion, and this story is just unfolding!