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Nasscom chief Dewang Mehta
"With better bandwidth, more people will surf the web"
 real 28k

Monday, 24 July, 2000, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Indian net users set to soar
Farmers get an internet demonstration
Internet access in rural India is set to increase
The number of people using the internet in India is expected to rise to 23 million by 2003.

At present, it is estimated that about four million people use the internet in India.


We see a very rosy picture ahead, particularly when internet connectivity will be available through cable television

Nasscom president Dewang Mehta
The figures were released by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) which carried out a survey.

It was conducted in 68 cities and towns across India, which account for 92% of the country's internet usage.

Nasscom president Dewang Mehta said: "We see a very rosy picture ahead, particularly when internet connectivity will be available through cable television."

India currently has about one million internet subscribers.

But each connection is said to be used by four people, because of which the number of users is estimated to be nearly four million.

"The last eight months saw subscribers jump by more than 800,000, thanks to the government's policy to encourage private participation," Mr Mehta said.

"Internet is still an urban phenomenon, but we expect that to change with the setting up of community internet centres in rural areas," Mr Mehta added.

Nasscom also said that more than 80 service providers and at least 12 private international gateways will become operational by March 2001.

Private gateway

On Friday, India's first ever private internet gateway, Mantra Online, was launched, ending the monopoly of the state-run telecom company, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL).

Internet surfer
Poor telephone lines hamper internet services
Until recently, India's private internet service providers had to route access to international gateways through VSNL.

But this was reversed in 1999, with the government deregulating the telecommunications sector.

Internet services in India have suffered because of low bandwidth and poor telephone connections.

Dewang Mehta says the government has been asked to open up the bandwidth to which private gateways had access.

Mantra Online is a joint venture between British Telecom and Bharti Telecom of India and has set up its gateway in the capital, Delhi on a KU-band frequency.

It plans to open seven more gateways in Bangalore, Bombay, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Madras and Pune.

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See also:

23 Jul 00 | South Asia
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India's richest ride on IT wave
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