[India] Delhi No. 2 in internet access
Dec 15 2000
Delhi No. 2 in internet access
DELHI is fast emerging as the hot new cyber hub in the country. On
the heels of a progressive state IT policy that envisions promotion
of IT for the masses, e-governance, IT investments and a couple of
gungho reports on its geographical location and historical advantages
comes the revelation that it has the second largest number of
Internet subscribers in the country.
With 3,19,616 Internet subscribers, the national capital has more
than half of Maharashtra’s 6,19,524 Net connections, about double of
Karnataka and as much as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu — the two
traditional IT centres — put together.
In fact, the Information Technology Policy 2000 of the Delhi
government has identified conversion of Delhi into a regional hub for
Internet, e-commerce and digital services traffic as one of the 16
steps to make Delhi an IT hot-spot.
Says S Regunathan, principal secretary to the chief minister and in-
charge of IT, “Delhi is not even a typical state. It is only a town,
so, among metropolitan cities, it is leading in Net connections. In
the next two years, we expect the subscription base to touch two
This will be helped by the optic fibre network being laid by
Spectranet — already 700 kms have been laid. Reliance has also jumped
in. That means Net penetration through cable will also be possible.
With Delhi having the highest number of TVs, many others like Bharti
are interested in laying fibre.”
Economic, political and geographical factors do play an important
role in the IT complexion of a region. This is evident in the pattern
and number of internet subscribers across the country.
The BIMARU states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar
Pradesh — with the exception of Rajasthan — are also the biggest
states in India, and account for less than one lakh connections,
whereas Maharashtra alone has six times the figure.
As on September 30, the connections in Rajasthan (35,260), Madhya
Pradesh (32,186), Uttar Pradesh (25,881) and Bihar (4,187) have
thrown up the Northern states in poor light in the Net economy.
The “connected” South is better off with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
leading the pack with 2,91,032 and 1,93,876 subscribers respectively.
Tamil Nadu’s performance as the third best is aided by the fact that
it has several “educated and industrialised” cities and towns, and
does not fall back heavily on just one capital city, like, say,
Karnataka does on Bangalore.
Andhra Pradesh disappoints with a mere 91,103 subscribers. So much
for all the hype about cyber chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and
his IT revolution. Fully-literate Kerala is making good strides with
West Bengal with 1,60,054 connections is fourth on the list while
Gujarat follows with 1,13,633 connections. Both government and
industry sources cite VSNL, Caltiger, Satyam, Dishnet, Bharti, MTNL
and BSNL as the leading ISPs in the country today, servicing a total
of 20,45,509 subscribers.
Despite the growing gap between the top cities and the laggards, the
industry is upbeat about its initial projection that Net connections
will double every six months for the next five years.
Says Amitabh Singhal, secretary, Internet Service Providers
Association of India, “As on March 2000, the total subscriber base
was about 9.61 lakh… so, we were right after all. It should be
remembered though that the subscriber base only refers to those who
are paying for the connection.
The number of users would be five-fold, which means if the
subscribers account for 0.2 per cent of the population, the user-base
translates into 1 per cent, that is 10 million users.” As of now, PC
penetration, which stands at 4.5 million, has limited Net penetration
to 2 million users, he says.
Going by the trend of cable operators turning into ISPs, Singhal is
confident that the user base will spread across the 35-million cable
connected homes, thereby expanding to 10 per cent of the population
in just five years.