India needs more than the Aakash

http://on.ft.com/oPZsZh

The introduction of India’s domestically-manufactured Aakash tablet has been big news in the ICT community, and in the tech world at large. The 7-inch tablet, which runs Google’s Android OS and which will be provided to students for $35, has been hailed as a massive step forward in bridging the digital divide, an issue which plagues India to a much greater extent than many of its neighbors.

There are, however, some crucial flaws in the infrastructure necessary to support it. The Aakash is a WiFi only device. Publicly accessible WiFi connections are nearly nonexistent outside of the major urban centers. The ability to bridge that gap with access to 3G networks is limited; in a country where the per capita income is still only about $1100, a $200 per year smartphone connection is a privilege few can afford.

The Aakash helps provide the people of India with access to a reasonably sophisticated computing device at an accessible price. But without the necessary infrastructure, it’s likely to fall by the wayside.

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One response to “India needs more than the Aakash

  • hesmalley

    It is amazing to me that people spent the time and money to create such a high technology product for such a low cost without taking into account the issue of internet access. Seeing that developing countries are finding technologies to make their lives, and education more globalized is great, and is something that needs to be continued. However, it is all useless without the right simple base technology such as commonplace wifi, and I wonder how long it will take for these corporations to realize this.

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