Data connectivity a major problem, says Google

By Karan Choudhury , Business Standard, New Delhi | In Digital | September 28, 2016
The company on Tuesday launched a slew of products for 2G data.

Sharpening its focus on India, technology and search engine giant Google on Tuesday said the influx of 4G services is good for the country, but data connectivity will be a major problem.

"We are excited about what Reliance Jio is doing with 4G connectivity as well as plans of other operators. We are trying our best with high-speed connectivity with Railtel, Railwire and Google Station. But the reality is that we are in a very large country with relatively constrained amount of spectrum. We are probably going to see constraints throughout," said Caesar Sengupta, vice-president, Next Billion Users at Google.

He added that many Indians do not have the levels of income to buy data indiscriminately. The company on Tuesday launched a slew of products that can work on 2G data, low bandwidth and almost no connectivity.

"Jio and all the operators are key partners for us in providing more access. Anything that happens there helps us, users and the overall ecosystem. By offering an actual 4G network at very interesting prices and taking some bold bets, we think we are going to catalyse the data revolution here," said Sengupta.

The company has re-calibrated itself to low data connectivity issues, Sengupta said. "I do not see that changing, in fact, I see that getting worse. The people willing to pay for data are already online. Now, if you want to expand to the remaining 800 million users, we have to figure out ways where they can eke more out of the data they have. That is why it is important to get our apps working on low data more efficiently," said Sengupta. Google is working on various revenue generation models, sources said, though revenue is not the focus at present. Regional languages, the firm believes, would help bring new users and generate revenue from advertisements.


• New video app, YouTube Go, designed and built from India experience
• Google Assistant in Hindi to preview inside Allo later this year
• A Wi-Fi platform called Google Station inspired by success of Railwire Wi-Fi
• Offline feature for Chrome web browser and faster loading in Google Play on 2G
• Plans to train 2 mn mobile developers on Android, over 120,000 students have already enrolled in the Android Fundamentals course
• It is also funding installation of Google Developers Codelabs at major state technical universities in India
• Google in partnership with RailTel and railways is providing high-quality internet to 3.5 mn people each month at 50-plus stations

"To be honest, we are already monetising. When you go to YouTube to watch your favourite video, you will most likely see an advertisement that is relevant to you. We do not think of monetisation separately from the overall experience. It is what makes the service sustainable and makes us invest more," he said.

After initiating a plan to launch Wi-Fi at 400 stations across the country, the company is working on creating Wi-Fi hotspots in malls and public areas, which could be a revenue source later. "It is a consumer effort we want to get out, monetisation is very important for the venues. We want to make sure this is sustainable for our partners. In some cases, venues are going to choose to make it free, but in many cases a venue might need us to monetise footfalls and use that to subsidise data, fibre and infrastructure costs. It is still too early comment on the specifics," said Sengupta.

The company is trying to approach partners, including mall owners, to assess their needs and design the right option for them. The company is also planning to launch Allo, its messaging app, which has an AI-based assistant that would be available in Hindi by the year end. "With the Hindi assistant for Allo, we are going a lot deeper. We are going to start with Hindi and expand," added Sengupta.