25 July 2011

Low internet literacy even in urban India:

Union Minister of State for InformationTechnology Sachin Pilot has promised that a "21st century" infrastructure would be set up for high speed broadband access; while a report that he released expresses concerns about "low internet literacy" even in urban areas.

Pilot released the report `Innovation In Telecom' by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) here yesterday. He did not give any time-frame for ushering in "21st century" infrastructure, nor did he comment on the report.

PwC report says that "even in the urban regions, Internet literacy is quite low, and so is the usage. It will take a generation for data usage to pick up.... Non-voice services, including value added services and SMS form just five to 15 per cent of total operator revenues, which goes to over 50 per cent for operators in major countries. The number for mobile data would be still lower."

Rural teledensity has still not reached the targets and the Universal Service Obligation (USO)) Fund created for the telecom industry has not been utilised adequately, it said.

Most product innovations still originate from the Western economies while Indian companies seem to be content adopting them. One of the reasons is lack of proper research infrastructure, education and investment, the report adds.

"Talent is one drawback we severely face in India. While India produces twice as many engineering graduates as the United States, only less than five per cent have basic vocational skills essential for fruitful employment," it said.

"Only about 25 per cent graduates in India have the skills that deem them fit to work for multinational companies. This is because most institutes in India are built with the idea of meeting the demand for graduate education, focused on enrolling as many students as possible," the report added.

The report also expresses concern about the anxiety among telecom sector investors about clarity in telecom policy.