The history of the internet in India dates back to 1986, when the Department of Electronics (DoE), provided internet connectivity to eight premier institutions—NCST Bombay, Indian Institute of Science, five Indian Institutes of Technology (Delhi, Mumbai, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Chennai) beside itself. The service called Educational Research Network (ERNET) was only available to educational and research communities
The biggest milestone in this journey was witnessed twenty-five years ago when the first publicly available internet service was launched in India by the state-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) on 15 August 1995.
There were many hardware and network issues during the initial stages. The dial-up speeds were rather slow up to 9.6 kbit/s. The modems used were of poor quality, and would often disconnect after making a beeping sound every three minutes.
In spite of all the problems over 10,000 subscribers opted for VSNL’s internet service within the first 6 months of the launch. This proved to be the biggest hurdle as VSNL had designed each line to handle 30 customers at a time.
Over the past 25 years India has come to be the home to 120 million – the world’s second-largest internet user base- accounting for 12 per cent of all internet users globally, as per the 2019 Mary Meeker report on Internet Trends
Today India is going through a digital revolution. A large number use the internet for a variety of seasons and reasons from net banking, fund transfer, online purchasing, eLearning, and communications (email, WhatsApp, social media and video calls). Today many things which seemed impossible can be done online. So much so, no company can succeed without digitizing whole or part of its business.
Today over 4.6 billion people today use the internet, sending out billions of gigabytes of data over the World Wide Web. The internet has revolutionized our lives and dramatically changed the way people globally communicate with each other using audio and video. The digital era has also transformed the corporate world and created new giants.
What next: where to now?
India is finally on the verge of 5G network, faster speeds and Mobile Data. When it comes to technology augmented and virtual reality is the next big thing that can make significant changes in our lifestyle over the next 25 years.
The way things are moving, India may have 800 million internet users by 2023.
But in reality, only 30% of India is online today. Over the next five years or so, an estimated 75-80% of new users will come from rural areas. This is the real India that needs the internet and can benefit from the internet.
In the days to come, the largest number of people on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or telegram will be Indians. That will be the day when Bollywood music label, T-Series, could soon have more subscribers on YouTube than any channel in the world.
The writing on the wall is loud and clear – Indians will shape the way the internet is used around the world…