How do you increase India’s budgetary allocations for broadband? Simple, convince the Finance Minister that Farmville generates agricultural income!

Jokes aside, another initiative has been launched to try to make the Internet more accessible to consumers: Tata Teleservices has announced the launch of Dialog, a device that will allow users to access the Internet from their TV sets reports Financial Express. The device is powered by the company’s USB Data Modem Tata Photon or Tata Whiz. . It includes applications like Photo Viewer, Video Player and Audio Player, and allows Picture-in-Picture if the set top box is connected to the TV through Dialog. The device also supports USB devices like pen drives and has four USB ports.

In its pilot phase, the service has only been launched in Kolkata and Chennai, and is priced at a rather steep Rs. 6,699 for Photon Whiz and Rs 7,699 for Photon Plus. Dialog appears to be a nifty device, but we’ll reserve our judgement on its usefulness and usability until we try it. It does sound remarkably similar to Kayak, a decide launched by Qualcomm in December 2009. Kayak’s Internet access was powered by Opera and it was priced at Rs 10,000.

Education vs Price

But back to more serious things, including the joke: the Indian government has identified, according to The Economic Survey 2010, low PC penetration and affordability as the two key reasons for low Internet penetration. But is it just about price, or more about education? How many people in the country actually understand how access to information on the Internet can change their lives, or know about the services currently available? What kind of an effort is being made towards imparting digital education in India? As much as we can pass comments on the Google bus, it does introduce people to services like maps, job and matrimonial sites, among several other services. One has to create the need before providing means of satisfying that need. The cost of Dialog, or even an old PC, is comparable with the cost of a medium range mobile handset today. But the perceived need for a mobile connection is far greater, isn’t it?

(with inputs from Diwaskar Chettri)

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