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India's net penetration not good, says father of internet

Chennai, Jan 26, 2013, DH News Service: 0:45 IST
Vinton Gray Cerf
Internet may be celebrating its 30th birthday on January 2013 (since it started on January 1, 1983), but net penetration in India and across Asia, continues to be low,
according to one of its designers.


American computer scientist Vinton Gray Cerf, hailed worldwide as “father of the Internet”, quoted recent statistics on internet distribution and users to show that its “penetration” in India is just 11.4 per cent of the country’s population, even as the average internet use in Asia remained only 27.5 per cent.

Taking part in an interaction organised by IIT Madras and the Pune-based Association For Computing Machinery (ACM) on Thursday, Vint said India has about 137 million internet users and the net penetration is not so good.

India, nonetheless, has 25 million smart (cellular) phones now, he said at the discussion titled Future of The Internet.

He acknowledged that local content in local language is a very important issue in widening the net’s presence.

“So, we (at Google) have a team of special engineers working at our centres in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi to work on local content,” said Vint, who is also the “chief internet evangelist” for Google since 2005.

Internet penetration (as a percentage of the population) continues to be among the highest in North America at 78.6 per cent, followed by Europe at 63.2 per cent, he underscored. But Asia certainly would get to those levels, Vint hoped, as China was investing “very heavily” in this sector.

Internet penetration in China was 40 per cent, with South Korea and Japan way ahead at 82.5 per cent and 79.5 per cent respectively.

Interestingly, neighbouring Pakistan fares better than India in this index at 15.3 per cent. Even Africa is ahead of India at 15.6 per cent, while a state like Azerbaijan was surprisingly racing ahead at just over 50 per cent.

If the Internet, as a global network of computers, has been working for 30 years now and “doing ambitious things”, it is because “it is an architecture, a protocol,” explained Vint. Vint was one of the co-designers of the TCP/IP Protocols in September 1973 that paved way for the Internet.

As for emerging trends, Vint placed utmost emphasis on making the Internet “much safer than in the past and improving the safety of the Networks.” Besides the growing internet-enabled devices, Vint said more “sensors” will be hooked to the internet, enabling electronic appliances such as the refrigerator that could send SMSs to the cell phone on the state of the milk or vegetables in it, or about the “temperature in the wine cellar.”

“Such devices and sensory networks will become common in construction buildings for security and other purposes,” he predicted.

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