Project Saksham – Internet PCO

Written by: Madhur

On Oct 3rd, 2006

In 1990, less than 5 million homes in India had telephone connectivity. At that time, I am sure naysayers would have easily doubted the growth of telephones due to cost, illiteracy, majority of rural population etc. But with the introduction of PCO’s (Public Call Offices), the telecom landscape changed completely. Today those yellow black booths are ubiquitious. They are available in every street of every little towns and villages. Cost has come down considerably and more than 300 million people use PCO services.

Project Saksham, that is being undertaken by Microsoft and Hughes could bring about the same phenomenon to Internet penetration. This project plans to set up 5000 broadband enabled Internet kiosks in India across 200 small towns and villages. The kiosks will be run by local entrepreneurs and will also provide crash course on IT literacy for kiosk operators.

I think if the project is executed to the plan, it can bring about a revolution in terms of computer literacy, internet penetration and source of information for common man. Literacy should not be a problem even in small villages as it will not take much time for application and web services providers to come up with apps in localized languages and native look and feel (Companies like Yahoo are already taking a step towards that). Once that happens, the possibilities are endless. For a common villager, it can provide advanced weather information, news, tips of the trade for different businesses and jobs in urban areas. Ecommerce applications like online bill pay, online ticketing, ordering things not available locally can greatly enhance quality of life. For students it can be a source of education, finding information about Universities, career opportunities etc. This will obviously be a great boost for the Internet ecosystem in India.

Lets just hope this project does the same to Internet industry in India that PCO’s did to telecom industry.

Update: Business Standard reports that BSNL is taking on a similar initiative to connect rural areas with broadband access. Its great to see more than one player seeing value in this kind of project.

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Entry Filed under: infrastructure

One Response

  1. 1. IndianPad said on October 3rd, 2006 at 7:10 am

    iLeher » Project Saksham – Internet PCO- All about Internet industry in India…

    iLeher » Project Saksham – Internet PCO- All about Internet industry in India posted at IndianPad.com…

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