Why India.com Lives Abroad

Why India.com Lives Abroad

reality check. How do you measure progress in the Net age?

Not by exported engineers or lines of code. They
don’t describe progress within.

My first measure is the number of PCs in the
country. Sales crossed the one million mark in 1999 (IDC India). But we have a
long way to go in PC and phone penetration.

My top measure is bandwidth. The pipes within,
and gateways to the world.

I said this two months ago at a function: India’s
total Internet bandwidth (150Mbps) was less than a company’s pipe to Singapore’s
ONE network. The DoT Secretary said I was unaware of reality: "India does
not have a bandwidth problem, and never will."

But India does. It has a terrible problem. What
prevents things from collapsing is low demand growth. Now that’s a circular
argument. Without supply, demand is held down–or deflected abroad.

Take the dotcoms–where are their Webservers? In
the US.

First, there’s dollar outflow, as thousands pay
US-based ISPs for hosting.

Second, we miss out on a whole industry–hosting.
Can you imagine the demand for Webservers, bandwidth and app server farms if
these sites were located in India? The IT jobs?

Third, how crazy that sites for Indian users are
all abroad. We pay twice over–for hosting, and the consumer bandwidth! If they
were hosted in India, more traffic would stay home, reducing gateway loading.

Fourth, as ASPs push the hosting business up the
value chain, the dollar costs for Indian users will go up, with expensive
manpower running those app servers in the US.

Fifth, with usage focused on local servers on a
fast backbone, end-user response would be quicker, a critical factor for e-com.

Sixth, if our gateways are also expanded–think
of the opportunities for hosting foreign sites from Indian server farms. Imagine–India
as the Webserver location for Asia.

Let’s be clear about this–neither the $50
billion software export target for 2008, nor the IT-enabling of the masses, will
happen without bandwidth. What can the government do? Pull out all stops for a
10 gigabit backbone and 5 gigabits of gateway capacity by December. Drop
internal bandwidth cost fivefold–so much that it does not make sense for any
Indian dotcom company to host abroad. Encourage Webserver farms.

There won’t be a single paise lost (it’s
going out now–in dollars). It will make that $50 billion target possible, add
hosting revenues, cut forex outflow, bring the Net to a lot more people. And
bring India.com home.

Kumar Roy

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