Net devices for Rs 5,000 on the anvil

Written by Corporate Bureau | New Delhi, Aug 28 | Updated: Aug 29 2008, 05:49am hrs
The countrys tehcnology majors are now working towards providing low-cost Internet devices with prices as low as Rs 5,000 aimed at bridging the digital divide. Called Netbooks and Nettops these devices would be built on Intels Atom processor and could have various technology players like Acer, HCL, Lenovo, Wipro, Zenith among others bringing them to the market.

We have already developed a prototype of the device and plan to launch in four months, said Prakash Bagri, director, marketing, Intel, South Asia. This breakthrough product is being developed as a part of Intels Connected Indians initiative. Launched on Thursday, industry players, government and associations have come together for the cause of connecting a billion Indians. With a population of 1.1 billion, India has less than 50 million Internet users while the number of Broadband users is even less than 5 million.

These products will be compact mobile devices, which can be used for basic computing applications, listening to music, e-mailing and web surfing. They will also allow users to use social networking sites and making phone calls over the Internet.

According to sources close to the development, telecom service providers could provide bundling offers with broadband connections. Meanwhile, players like Google who have also pledged their support to the cause could enable maximum access to information in all languages. For selling the product in the market, Intel will use its dealer network. Other players will buy the processor from Intel like for other products, assemble it at their own facilities and sell it through their own networks, said Sandeep Aurora, director, sales and marketing, Intel South Asia.

It may be interesting to note that only recently the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had given its recommendations for opening up Internet telephony in the country. This policy enables people to make calls between all lines using the Internet. Once operational, the technology is expected to bring down call rates by almost half and give a boost to Internet penetration in the country. Launch of such devices adds more promise to the expectations.