A broadband inclusion agenda4 min read 27 Sep 2009, 10:18 PM IST
A broadband inclusion agenda
Baraut was the unlikeliest place to find the answers. A nondescript town of traders and farmers in Uttar Pradesh, it was my first stop on a recent field trip to assess the spread of telecommunications in the country’s hinterland. Ravi, the town’s largest mobile phone retailer, bragged that his shop attracted customers from villages 20km away. As we discussed the preferences of rural customers over jaggery-sweetened tea, I couldn’t help but notice Ravi’s hand involuntarily reaching for his computer mouse every few minutes. He had dialled into the Internet through a mobile data card and was using Google to look up the correct posture for some yoga asanas. Later that afternoon, in a small village called Banmali, I was told a mobile operator that had recently launched services had won a large share of customers from leading competitors because, “unke network mein EDGE hai !" (it has an EDGE network), a technology that facilitates Internet use on the mobile phone. India’s digital generation is on the move —striding through the world of mobile voice into the land of the Internet, cocking a snook at the on-again-off-again third-generation auctions.