A computer worth 5,000? Possible, says Indian

Monday, 30 December 2002, 08:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: Rajesh Jain hit the headlines when he sold his IndiaWorld site for a few thousand million rupees. Today his focus has shifted to taking computing to the common man.

"Most technology has been priced in dollars, putting it beyond the reach of a large number of businesses and consumers in emerging markets like India. The computer, which is the lynch-pin of an economy, is still seen as a luxury by many," he argues.

But Jain believes his innovative solutions could battle the stumbling blocks. "We're working on something that could really make a difference," Jain told IANS here.

He believes India needs "computers for 5,000 so that there can be one in every home and office; ubiquitous and cheap high-speed wireless communication; and software as a service for 250 per month so that it is affordable".

This, says Jain, would create a mass market for the adoption of technology in India.

These are not distant dreams for the managing director of Netcore Solutions who earlier founded IndiaWorld Communications that grew into one of the largest collection of India-centric Web sites.

Jain, who made history in Indian cyberspace when Satyam Infoway acquired his earlier firm in November 1999, says his dreams are entirely feasible.

"Fulfilling the list (of what India needs) may seem like a tall order. But the interesting thing is that the building blocks to put the solutions together already exist," argues Jain.

Netcore, his current firm, is working to lower the cost to make computing affordable. New software is driving hardware upgrades every three-four years, he says.

While the Indian market is pushing out slightly older models of computers, Jain suggests the large-scale use of recycled computers from developed markets. The U.S. disposes -- read upgrades -- computers at the rate of more than 25 million each year.

Netcore is working on a thin client-thick server solution. This means older, lower-configuration PCs would work off more powerful new computers.

"The 5000 computer can provide all the functions that users are accustomed to seeing on a computer in the corporate environment.... The next 500 million users across the digital divide are just as hungry as we (in universities) were a decade ago," he argues.

Interestingly, Jain is suggesting a switchover to the Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) solutions based on GNU/Linux.

"The total cost of these applications: zero. At a conservative estimate, the hardware-software savings with an Open Source-based thin client can be 75 percent or more as compared to a Microsoft Windows-Office fat desktop."

In terms of broadband connectivity -- a fast linkup to the Net -- he suggests WiFi, the Wireless Fidelity technology also called 802.11.

"It uses open spectrum, so there are no license fees applicable. WiFi enables the build-out of grassroots, bottom-up networks," Jain argues.
Source: IANS
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