Wi-Fi for Indian Railways and broadband for villages: Key tech announcements …

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google WiFi for Indian stations.

Padachuri, who runs a construction business in this city, the center of India’s technology industry, uses his smartphone to reserve movie seats through BookMyShow and to order pizzas from Domino’s.Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one of the first Indian leaders to interact with the top CEOs and business leaders of Silicon Valley, during his second US stint.There is a hunger in India to have more information and being able to connect, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said as he promised to deliver high-speed internet at 500 railway stations in the country. His wife, Vasavi, orders clothes from Myntra and Amazon.com, and downloads videos and games from YouTube and the Google Play store to entertain their 4-year-old daughter.

Among the prominent announcements from Modi’s Silicon Valley visit are: According to a recent report released by the United Nations Broadband Commission titled, ‘The State of Broadband’ report prior to the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development said that India slipped in global rankings on broadband penetration. They all stay in touch via a group chat they have set up on WhatsApp, a free messaging service owned by Facebook. “There’s no need to call each other,” Rakesh Padachuri said last month during an interview at his home, which is next to a Best Western hotel.

While many may argue that it is the Government’s responsibility to provide an effective and affordable access to broadband internet, the fact remains that India is now behind countries such as Syria and Sudan in terms of internet penetration. It will also be fast — many times faster than what most people in India have access to today, allowing travelers to stream a high definition video while they’re waiting, research their destination, or download some videos, a book or a new game for the journey ahead.” The Padachuri family’s love of technology helps explain why India and its 1.25 billion residents have become the hottest growth opportunity — the new China — for US Internet companies. Google’s Access & Energy team will be working with the and RailTel to bring WiFi-based Internet connectivity to 100 of India’s busiest railway stations–including those in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore–by the end of next year.

The PM’s visit has also come with some key announcements and along with discussions on future possibilities of certain new technologies coming to India. Blocked from China itself or frustrated by the onerous demands of its government, companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter, as well as startups and investors, see India as the next best thing. “They are looking at India, and they are thinking, ‘Five years ago, it was China, and I probably missed the boat there. Modi assured the participants of hackathons his government would like to understand and incorporate whatever they have found and ameliorate the lives of the common man in India. “It will be our full effort to do this. Now I have a chance to actually do this,'” said Punit Soni, a former Google executive who was lured back to India recently to become the chief product officer of Flipkart, a Bangalore e-commerce startup similar to Amazon. This project makes it the most high-scale public Internet infrastructure project in the world, and is bound to boost local economies and commercial establishments in and around railways stations.

During a meeting in Seattle on Wednesday with US technology executives, China’s president, Xi Jinping, was unwavering on his government’s tough Internet policies. During the townhall at the Facebook HQ with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, PM Modi responded to a query on how effective the Make in India campaign would be and the ease of changing the course of things. After a stop in New York City, he headed to Silicon Valley, where he visited Tesla and attended a dinner with tech chieftains including Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Sundar Pichai of Google. He also planned to drop by Google and Stanford University, mingle with entrepreneurs and address a sold-out arena of 18,000 people in San Jose, California, before heading back to New York to meet with President Barack Obama on Monday. “For India to keep making progress, it needs to be a leader online,” Modi said during the Facebook event. Google and keyboards in Indic languages: As smartphones become the driver of Internet adoption in India, Google has realised the importance of allowing Indian users to type and interact with these devices in their regional languages.

Yet “we are barely scratching the surface of availability of Internet to the masses,” said Amit Singhal, Google’s senior vice president in charge of search, who emigrated from India to the United States 25 years ago. Microsoft low-cost broadband to 5 lakh villages Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that the company plans to partner with the Indian Government to bring in low-cost broadband connectivity to 500,000 villages in India. “We believe that lost-cost broad band connectivity coupled with the scale of cloud computing intelligence that can be harnessed from data can help drive creativity, efficiency and productivity across governments and businesses of all sizes,” Nadella said at the meeting with the PM. Qualcomm and investments for start-ups: Qualcomm, announced a $150 million (approximately Rs 9.8 billion) venture investment fund for start-ups in India via its Qualcomm Ventures.

And that only touches on Facebook’s ambitions in India. “We need to focus on the billion people who are not connected,” said Kevin D’Souza, head of growth and mobile partnerships for Facebook India. Qualcomm also launched a “Design in India Initiative and Competition” to help India become a hub for design capabilities that drive the manufacturing value chain for 3G/4G smartphones, tablets and Internet of Everything (IoE). Qualcomm will also set up an Innovation Lab in Bangalore to provide technical and engineering support to Indian companies, and support for multiple Indian mobile device design companies. “We are committed to providing local innovative start-ups with the support needed to help India’s IOE (Internet of Everything) ecosystem grow, increasing consumer choice and availability,” Qualcomm executive chairman Paul E Jacobs said in his remarks at the dinner hosted in honour of Modi.

Under an umbrella initiative called Internet.org, Facebook is also working with a local cellphone operator to offer a package of free services, including news, job listings and text-only versions of Messenger and its social network aimed at those who can’t afford a data plan. Zuckerberg said, “Early on in our history when things weren’t really going well – we had hit a tough patch and a lot of people wanted to buy Facebook – I went and I met with Steve Jobs and he said that to reconnect with what I believed was the mission of the company, I should go visit this temple in India that he had gone to early in the evolution of Apple, when he was thinking about what he wanted his vision of the future to be.” Zuckerberg did heed the advice. Making money is also difficult in India, where the amount spent on digital advertising is expected to total about $940 million this year, according to eMarketer — a fraction of the $58 billion that is expected to be spent in the US. He added that seeing the way people connected in India made him believe that the world would be a better place if everyone had a stronger ability to connect.

He mentioned the huge opportunities India offered,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters. “Cook responded positively. Google, Facebook and Twitter have all added support for more Indian languages and are prodding developers and users to create more local-language content. He particularly was interested in the whole App development economy, which he said could be a very very important factor for entrepreneurship where individual app developers can just become part of the app universe,” he added.

To deal with India’s poor mobile data connections, which can run at a hundredth of the speed that Americans expect, Google is compressing Web pages on its servers so that they use 80 percent less data and load four times as fast. Similarly, Indians can download YouTube videos while they have a high-speed connection, such as Wi-Fi at school or work, and save them to watch later when they are offline.

To reach them, Google has formed a partnership with Intel and a local charity to send female tutors, who travel by bicycle, to thousands of villages to teach rural women about the Internet. Using technology pioneered by ZipDial, Twitter allows people to view the tweets of cricket stars, politicians or brands by calling a special phone number, then immediately hanging up. The idea is to reposition Twitter as a real-time news service, instead of a collection of random items from random accounts. “This is a market where we can do tests,” said Amiya Pathak, a founder of ZipDial and a director of product management at Twitter. “Prove it out in India first, and as you prove it out, take it to other markets.”

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