If the push being given to data services is any indication, we’re in for quite a mobile Internet revolution in India. The latest (after Aircel-WiFi) is a tie-up between MTS (Shyam Sistema) with Meru Cabs, to offer passengers free data card connectivity on the move: the service has been launched in Delhi, and MTS and Meru Cabs intend to roll out the same in other cities including Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Customers will just have to ask the cab driver for an MBlaze dongle for free surfing. The company is claiming ‘unlimited data download’, but we’ll have to check exactly how unlimited is unlimited.
While there aren’t any specific regulations related to Taxi cabs offering Internet services, I wonder if the same rules that apply to cybercafes will apply here: that every user needs to fill out details, share a personal identification card in order to access the Internet. If they don’t, it’ll be a matter of time before the authorities step in.
Need To Focus On Content
With Aircel’s recent launch of Wifi connectivity, it appears that the new telecom operators are trying to leverage their underutilized spectrum allocation to attract data users; this augurs well for mobile Internet users in India, but I think there’s one critical element missing – a push for Indic languages, to bring more people into the fold. How long can telecom operators keep targeting existing Internet users? There’s a very large digital divide in India, and someone needs to do something about it…starting with an operating system.