FREDERICK NORONHA on Thu, 12 Mar 1998 07:32:51 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> Internet in Goa (India)

>From THE GOMANTAK TIMES (Panaji) * March 8, 1998


>From Frederick Noronha

PANAJI, March 6: In Goa, the Information Superhighway has hit a major
road-block, and a number of eager citizens anxiously awaiting to get
access to the Internet find their access closed, at least for some weeks
to come. 

Officials at the Goa Telecom confirmed that new Internet accounts are
currently not being released. The apparent cause is that technical and
managerial botch-ups have resulted in a lack of adequate equipment being
in place here, for this this potentially very-useful facility. 

Added to this, a lack of proper communication between Goa Telecom and
India's main Internet service provider, the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited
(VSNL), has complicated matters. 

Paperwork for the release of Internet accounts takes long time to get
completed, and adequate equipment is very slow in reaching Goa. But, added
to these long-standing problems, the new hurdle on the so-called
Information Superhighway is that fresh accounts are simply not being
opened in Goa. 

Goa Telecom officials plead that there is a lack of equipment. "If the Goa
industries minister talks to VSNL, the work will get done," pleaded one
official, requesting anonymity. 

But, Internet-users and enthusiasts in Goa find it odd that the Goa
Telecom has itself been so slow in purchasing additional equipment, when
it could stand to gain much revenue and business from this field with
multiple spinoffs for all. 

"DoT (the Department of Telecom) wants to talke over the whole Internet
business. But it can't manage one small state like Goa itself, so how will
it manage the whole country?" asks Joseph "Boogie" Viegas, one of Goa's
most experienced Internet enthusiasts based at Alto-Porvorim. 

Internet has a number of applications -- in business, industry, education,
and even for promoting communication and entertainment. Given Goa's role
as a touristic region, which also has a high ratio of expatriates, the
Internet could play a major role if it is properly expanded and run

Over three hundred parties took Internet accounts in Goa, each of which
costs between Rupees 5500 to 15,500 per year, till recently. Just a few
months back, the rates were changed, to allow customers to buy smaller
slabs of Internet time, leading to a big increase in the number of those
opting for joining the race to cyberspace. This meant one could get an
Internet account for Rs 3000 only. 

But the DoT was not adequately prepared to cope with this rush. 

Goa failed to get equipment on time, while other centres in Maharashtra
and North India, like Jaipur, got equipment far earlier.  Goa has got a
fairly powerful 2 Mbps link to Bombay. But because of a shortage of modems
and phone lines, no new accounts are being released till April at least. 

Once interest in the Internet wanes, it would be difficult to rebuild it.

In February 1997, while launching the Internet access node in Goa, it was
promised that a full-fledged server would be installed here, but this has
not yet been done. Neither is connectivity satisfactory in many parts of
Goa, due to some technical problem and synchronisation between exchanges. 

Both chief minister Pratapsing Rane, during the inaugural function last
year, and former union minister Ramakant Khalap, have claimed credit for
"bringing the Internet to Goa". But the road to cyberspace seems to be
filled with potholes -- users outside Panaji still have a difficult time
in getting a clear connection to the Internet. 

Cyberspace -- a new buzz word which promises to open a new world for the
late 20th century -- is a world of information accessible via computer
technology. But will Goa get a fair chance on the global infobahn?

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