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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

November - 2008 - issue > Cover Feature

Reinventing cyber cafes

Jaya Smitha Menon
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Jaya Smitha Menon
Who said cyber cafés are an endangered species? Look at this math: There are about 1,80,000 cyber cafés in India, which have seven PCs on an average, and these are available for around 12 hours every single day. In fact they serve more than 72 million strong English speaking population in the country. With the availability of tools that helps translate English language content into the local languages, the cyber cafés, in fact, are empowering the population in remote locations across the country. Naresh Ajwani, President, Consumer Infrastructure and Operations, Sify Technologies points out, "As people in different places become more used to using the internet there has also been a growing requirement for public internet access." He believes that the Internet café has a bright future and says consumer demand remains as high as ever.

Two common scenarios in today’s cyber cafés

Scenario 1: "Shoot him, knock him down", shouts a 12 year old boy to his friend sitting at the other end of a room. It is not a physical fight. The scene is in a cyber café where five boys, between 12 and 15, are crowding around a PC, the keyboard of which is getting tapped not only by the one sitting on a rickety old plastic chair, but by all the boys around him who are emotionally worked up by what is happening on the screen. Their eyes are glued to the screen, on what looks like a violent game. Around them, the other surfers are quietly engrossed in their business. They’ve been here before.

Scenario 2: A 60-year-old woman walks into Net City, a small cyber café in an alley in a crowded residential locality of Bangalore. She does not even know how to switch the computer on. The boy in the café sets up the system and puts her before her son who is on the other side of the globe, through a webcam. They are able to see each other. She doesn't touch the system, but talks to her son loudly and sincerely complains how thin he has grown and advises him to take care of his health. After talking for half an hour she walks out paying the money, brimming with the happiness of having 'seen' her son.

Proliferation and evolving uses of the cyber café

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