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Airtel India Internet Technology Telecom

Broadband in India is Far from a Reality

Being involved in Startup Saturday Delhi, I have come across a lot of entrepreneurs building Internet applications. Most of them being India centric. The problem, which has been discussed and reported numerous times is that broadband penetration is a miniscule 3% of the whole population. There are roughly 3 million broadband subscribers in India.

Airtel 8Mbps with 4GB Cap
Airtel 8Mbps with 4GB Cap

India being a highly price conscious country, I find it amazing that telcos like Airtel are busy hiking the price of metered “broadband” while degrading service levels. The latest move by Airtel has been to increase the price of their “unlimited” 512k connection to Rs. 1,599 (USD 34) per month. The real kicker is that the speed degraded to 256k after you’ve hit downloads totaling 100GB.

Airtel 512k with 100GB Cap
Airtel 512k with 100GB Cap

At the same time, they are introducing 16Mbps connections for Rs. 2,999 (USD 64) per month that have download caps of 20GB. A single Linux distro download is 4GB. A point upgrade to OS X is generally around 500MB. Buying and downloading a few shows from iTunes or watching a few videos on YouTube and I’ll blow right thru my 20GB limit in a week. If I download roughly 40GB of data in a given month, my Internet access will cost me upwards of Rs. 12,000 (USD 255) per month.

Airtel 16Mbps with 20GB cap
Airtel 16Mbps with 20GB cap

If indian telcos like Airtel were to offer unlimited 1Mbps connections at Rs. 999 (USD 21) and unlimited 2Mbps at Rs. 1,599 (USD 34), the willingness of Indians to spend on Internet access would be much more palatable. Other than those whose careers in some way, shape, or form are connected to the Internet, very few people are willing to spend more than Rs. 999 per month on Internet access. Those that spend Rs. 999 or less per month, get an experience that basically sucks. They are frustrated and completely turned off by the fact that it takes 20 minutes to load a 3 minute video on YouTube.

India will never be a country of mass Internet adoption while the government agencies like TRAI and DoT don’t adopt a definition of broadband that is more inline with shifts in Internet usage. Indian telcos continue to provide subpar speeds at exorbitant prices when compares to the rest of the world. India, touting itself, as the technology center of the 21st Century, must adopt an infrastructure and a coherent policy around broadband deployment and usage. Only with the government mandating the need for widespread Internet adoption, at feasible price points, will there be widespread broadband adoption by non-techies.

However, relying on the government to be so forward thinking is a pipe-dream. What the Indian telcos should do is adopt a model that was instrumental in driving mobile usage in India. Drop the price points so that even the average person (living on Rs. 100 per day), would find Internet usage compelling, useful, and not frustrating. If they were to adopt a mass usage policy and not price their broadband products based on margins, I believe that in 5 years, India could have at least 100 million broadband users (via DSL, cable modem, Mobile 3G, wiMax, etc.) Is it too much to ask the Indian telcos like Airtel, MTNL, BSNL, Tata Communications, Reliance, etc. to push the envelope of adoption? Unfortunately, I think it might be.

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Business Entrepreneurship India Startups

Startup Saturday Delhi – December 13th, 2008

Delhi’s first installment of Startup Saturday is scheduled for the 13th of December 2008. The event will be held from 2pm till 6pm at the American Center, New Delhi.

We’re very excited to be working with the gracious team at the American Center to help add a little something to the burgeoning entrepreneurial community in the Delhi/NCR region.

The American Center is located on KG Marg, right next to Connaught Place.

Please sign up if you’d like to demo at Startup Saturday Delh. Please sign up here, f you’d like to present on a specific topic related to starting and running a startup.

Registration and additional details will be coming soon.Registration for Startup Saturday is now open

Please check back here for updates.

We look forward to seeing you at Startup Saturday, Delhi.

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Business Entrepreneurship India Startups

Startup Saturday Delhi – Request for Demos

To help the Indian Startup Ecosystem in some small way, we’re going to be involved in setting up the Delhi chapter of Startup Saturday which is a part of HeadStart. We’d like to use this forum to help startups in the Delhi/NCR region showcase their products to a community of peers, media, and investors.

If you or your company is interested in demoing, please complete the form below.

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Business Delhi India New Delhi

Startup Saturday Delhi – Request for Demos

To help the Indian Startup Ecosystem in some small way, we’re going to be involved in setting up the Delhi chapter of Startup Saturday which is a part of HeadStart. We’d like to use this forum to help startups in the Delhi/NCR region showcase their products to a community of peers, media, and investors.

If you or your company is interested in demoing, please complete the form below.

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Delhi Food and Dining India New Delhi Restaurant Guide

Wasabi Brings Japanese Food to India

This posting doesn’t have anything to do with tech or other geeky stuff. However, being a foodie, I just had to write about my experience at Wasabi in New Delhi.

Wasabi is a fairly new Japanese restaurant located at the Taj Hotel on Man Singh Rd. in the heart of New Delhi. I first heard about the restaurant a few months ago from my wife. I was fortunate enough to have dinner at Wasabi yesterday. It was a special occasion and Chef Vikram and the rest of the staff at Wasabi made it extra special.

We started out with vegetarian sashimi and vegetarian sushi rolls. Vegetarian sushi rolls are fairly common at most Japanese restaurants around the world but this is the first time we had heard of vegetarian Sashimi. Vegetable sashimi is a platter of raw vegetables such as cucumbers, papaya, radish, asparagus, avocado, seaweed, and a few other items. Chef Vikram came up with the idea by adapting the idea of traditional Japanese sashimi to the Indian palate. Raw vegetables might not sound all that interesting until you have the chance to eat them the way Wasabi serves them. All the vegetables are freshly imported from Japan and they taste incredible. Combine them with some fresh wasabi and soy sauce and you’ve got a combination that will surely bring your taste buds to live. Accompanying the sashimi were vegetarian sushi rolls, also extremely fresh and very tasty.

After our appetizers, we were brought a combination of vegetable teppanyaki, a very special order of rice made with matsutake mushrooms, and one of Chef Vikram’s specialties, a tofu steak. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the names of all the dishes. I was a bit more focused on gorging myself on great food. All the food was exceptionally tasty and really had no need for extra garnishing or condiments of any sort.

To top off our incredible meal, we had a bit of the Wasabi Green Tea cake. Wow is about all I can say! Unfortunately, we were so completely stuffed, there was no way we could have any Japanese tea after dinner. I’m saving that for next time.

I highly recommend going to Wasab when you’re in Delhi. The decor is very pleasant, the service is exceptional, and the food is the best vegetarian Japanese food I’ve ever had. Thanks Vikram, Deepak, Sumitra and everyone else at Wasabi!

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