Sundar Pichai made a bold pitch for Google to plug into the Digital India programme by reaching out to small businesses and pushing for rural connectivity.
The Google CEO, who grew up in India, is on his first visit to the country since taking over the reins of the Silicon Valley based global search engine giant.
He said in New Delhi: “We think that what we build in India will apply to many global places. Project Loon will launch balloons in the sky to help reach out to rural areas… It is extremely important to help women understand internet in rural areas. We are doing it with Internet Saathi. We are giving women volunteers cycles that would help them reach remote areas and teach women internet. This is being done across 1000 villages.”
Google has plans to reach out to 300,000 villages, nearly 50 per cent of all villages in India and has already tested Project Loon in New Zealand, California and Brazil with that aim. It claims that each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40km in diameter, using wireless communications technology LTE or 4G.
Google expects more than 500 million Indians to be online by 2018, up from around 300 million today. But Pichai stressed that with most new users accessing the internet via cheap smartphones instead of desktops, poor mobile connectivity is forcing the company to adapt how it structures and sells its software.
Among its expansion plans for India, Google will train 2 million Indian developers for its Android operating system by 2019 and expand its campus in Hyderabad to get more people online.
Pichai explained: “This country has given me and Google so much and I just hope we can give much more to the country. A lot of what today is about is how we build products for the next billion Indian users, yet to come online.
“Our focus is on bringing internet access to everyone, making sure our products are working for them in a meaningful way and then ensure our platform allows them to add their voice to the internet.”
Google believes there are likely to be more users of Google’s Android software in India than in the US next year.
It is also working with Indian Railways to bring wireless internet service to 100 train stations, with Mumbai Central the first to go online in January, and on increasing the number of local languages available on its virtual keyboard to target non-English speakers.Tagged: Technology, Digital India, Google