India has taken more than a decade to cross the 100 million mark Internet connections with just about 1.4 million users in 1998. The Internet connectivity has of late been fueled by the ever growing popularity of smart phones in the country. One more key figure to look at is the rural internet penetration sits at just 4.6%. Thus, to get the next 500 million online, the following strategies can be adopted with focus on awareness, enterprises, mobile technologies and increased internet connectivity:
1) Low cost tablets for rural markets :
Internet enabled tablets like Aakash which could utilize the well-established GSM networks even in rural areas. Private players like Samsung and Micromax should also gear up for the same.
2) Bringing Businesses Online :
There is a need to create a favorable environment for Internet businesses, both to encourage start-ups and to scale existing companies. Instead of setting up brick and mortar shops, people need to set up their businesses online which requires lesser investment and promises wider reach.
3) Google as a ISP :
On the lines of Google Fiber and Google Balloon, Google could act as an internet service provider and enter lot of untapped (semi-urban and rural) areas.
4) Computer literacy programs:
Only 73 percent of Indians are literate, and only a small fraction are computer-literate. We need pan-India digital literacy campaigns and missions that are aligned to existing literacy and education programmes like the National Literacy Mission and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
5) Solving last mile connectivity problem :
This problem can be solved by creating clear and fairly priced right-of-way rules for private broadband players and mandating open and non-discriminatory access to the last mile laid by any player .Cable TV digitization can also be used to turn wired cable homes into wired broadband homes.