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India is the next internet frontier (2018) (cnn.com)
67 points by sujdes 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments



A positive thing for International companies is that India has a very large section of English speakers and that is only growing. So they did enter and expanded in the market easily.

But in the last few years due to Jio revolution, people from tier 3 cities and villages and getting connected to the internet for the first time. So companies wanting to capture these markets have to put extra effort into their products. Aside from language preferences, this section sees products in a different manner. Like Tiktok and Youtube have very different "popular" videos here.


There is a revolution boiling. Jio not just made internet accessible, it became catalyst in braking the barrier of classes and location and thinking, and education. The whole importance of it will be felt in coming decades if not years. It's crazy out here.


I am all for cheaper and accessible internet, but I have a few concerns.

On pricing, the incumbents really needed a jolt with their terrible pricing. But I think Jio went a little too far. It achieved all that it has by excessive and extended predatory pricing, primarily because it had access to unprecedented amounts of cash (from Ambani/Reliance) that the other providers do not. Vodafone-Idea and Airtel (the other major providers) have both suffered massive losses, the former has defaulted on their loans, and the stock has fallen to all time lows, and the firm itself is looking to exit the market - which is even worse as this could lead to a duopoly.

As for the access, I am not sure if India is ready to deal with unchecked free flow of information, considering how much of our population is prey to false propaganda and fake news. Whatsapp has already causes enough harm with the mindless sharing of unchecked/unverified news. With recent reports [1] of the ruling political party (BJP) resorting to distribution of deep fakes using dedicated IT cells to push a false narrative, the situation doesn't look comforting.

[1] - https://www.technologyreview.com/f/615247/an-indian-politici...


Yes - my heart bleeds for Vodafone and Airtel who kept data prices 10 times higher than they are now and sat on fat profits for years without building their 4G network. And kept milking us for "value-added" services we had not asked for.

And Jio is the bad guy for going up against the incumbents with a risky, but smart strategy of investing in the latest technology.

The reality is that there was no other way to match the incumbents except by growing the customer base quickly - as all other competitors have found. As a consumer i am very happy Jio did what it did, and I bet that no matter what happens, I will never pay as much for data as i was paying before Jio came.


> I am not sure if India is ready to deal with unchecked free flow of information

Fellow Indian, 100% agreed. Most of people who told me Wikipedia was unreliable now trust random WhatsApp forward messages.


But this is just stupidity. Does exist also a lot in the western world, but I don't see, how that can improved with restricting information flow?


Yup, there is no magic potion for imparting critical thinking. If anybody thinks Indians are the only ones affected by misinformation, please go to the Twitter feed of the current president of the United states, and read the replies.


I totally agree that misinformation is everywhere but I still think there's a huge difference in just how impactful/dangerous misinformation can be in countries like india vs the US.

I'm not indian, but a very similar pattern of a sudden explosion in internet access happened in Morocco, where I'm from. Morocco has a relatively large population of uneducated or barely educated young people that are super active on the internet and to be honest, the results are just horrible. Especially since majority of them are unemployed (which isn't their fault, the job market there is just horrible) and have nothing else to do anyways. And what happened to the two danish girls murdered there imo is directly related to that mix of totally ignorant people with total access to information they can barely process that end up radicalized


Misinformation has a huge impact everywhere, and I don't see how other companies are more immune to it. With the president of the US claiming climate change is a hoax, invented by the Chinese, and Boris Johnson, the current PM of England, saying NHS will get so much money back on leaving the EU, these countries sure don't look immune. Mind you, these are not trivial lies, these are lies believed by a huge number of their followers. And both of the above people ended up winning elections.


Bad news for Reliance, great news for India. Speculative excess can be great for society.


Vodafone may not survive the back taxes [1], and Airtel is struggling with those as well. Somehow Jio didn't have to pay any. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-i...


Jio did not have to pay any - probably because they started 5 years ago? This issue is from 2005 - Jio started in 2015 December.


The Vice article [0] shows videos in three languages - English, Hindi and Haryanvi.

[0]: https://www.vice.com/en_in/article/jgedjb/the-first-use-of-d...


What happens when the competing providers are killed out?


I don't doubt that for most of India, most of the time, vast numbers of people now have new LTE services on their phone that were previously unavailable to them.

Meanwhile, the Indian government thinks it can order ISPs to shut down Internet services in wide geographic regions for long periods of time:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-50819905

https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/internet/how-the...

Government attempts at censorship are constant and ongoing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_India

Doesn't exactly seem like a bastion of Internet freedom to me.


India is the next Internet frontier, in that the state has awful laws with no respect for the privacy of their users.

I hope there are other frontiers than states & governments infringing & clawing nastily at the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, but it sure seems like that's going to be one of the biggest anti-developments splashes for quite a while.

And India seems absolutely to be a vanguard force in fighting heavily against freedom & user rights.


This might very well be a false dawn. Internet speeds are downright awful after the Jio-led boom, prices might go substantially up if we are reduced to a duopoly, and the startups that raised billions on the promise of 600M internet users are now finding out that just because people have internet doesn't mean that they are a valuable audience for businesses.


factual error - "almost a third of the unconnected are in India". It should be "almost a quarter of the unconnected are in india.". 0.9B of 3.5B.

There are ~550M internet users in India (2019), that leaves out ~750 million unconnected users. 150M less than 0.9B.

There are other factual errors as well. Real sloppy journalism.


Let's try to have a healthy criticism here, both sides, starting with the article in hand. There is no denying that India is at the frontier, but at least we can maintain a basic level of sanity when it comes to quantifying by how much "India is at the forefront".


The article is from 2018 as mentioned in title.


2018? then it is "even more" incorrect.

What's up with the downvotes? The journalist hasn't done the math and has blown up the numbers to increase the significance of the article. This is a real pervasive problem.




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