e-Talk Radio: Rubin, Howard, 12 September 2000

[article]
Rebroadcast 24 October 2000

clearly as I've mentioned, in the area of being a major supplier of labor and ability to develop software onshore and outsource with the U.S. and other countries. That's one aspect of being a player in this economy. But in terms of, you look at India with a population of around a billion people, you also take a look at what are people looking for in the digital economy. Well, they're looking for new digital markets. And in fact, India is very low in terms of measurement of percent of population on the Internet today, and things like that. And in fact, interestingly enough, while we were there at this meeting, some U.S. companies did ask the question. They said, well, why should we be concerned about India as offering us a digital market, because Internet penetration is so low? And the technology minister made some wonderful comments about changes in government regulation, deregulation really, of telecommunications, and their goal to get 30% of their population online within a few years. And dealing with issues of literacy and lots of other things that they have concerns about. And while 30% sounds quite low, the technology minister made a wonderful statement. He said if we get 30% of our population online, that's larger than the population of the entire United States, effectively. So in fact, in terms of digital markets, looking at countries such as India, and even looking at China, as those countries start to ramp up penetration of the Internet, they will offer wonderful opportunities. So if you look at the numbers in the U.S. today, you find that one out of every two households, roughly, has online capability. If you start to look outside the U.S., the global number is one out of 30 households have online capability, and that's sort of the global number. The opportunity for increased penetration is much greater outside the U.S. than in the U.S. So in terms of a country like India, their interest is how can they maintain their position as an outsourcer and work force supplier in the global digital economy, and they're also very interested in developing themselves as a global market force, based on the strength of their population, hopefully improved quality of life and economics.

Carol: It's very interesting, because I know a lot of people who are from India that come here, will be retained in the United States a lot of times for a year, and then will take a lot of money back and be some of the richest in the nation there. It's very interesting to me to take a look at the countries like India and China, which we would normally kind of think of as emerging countries, where they've got some of the poorest living conditions, and at the same time some of the highest tech, at some of the lowest prices. And it's probably very interesting to manage a nation like that, with such a diversity and such an absolute polarization of haves and have-nots.

Howard: That's right. They have more than their own digital divide. There are lots of levels of economic divide there. But you find that the nation is focusing on the most pressing problems they have today, which have to do with health and education and basic economics. But they're seeing that the digital technologies are going to offer them an entrée to perhaps impacting those areas all at once. And actually the global digital divide initiative is about that, using digital technologies to transmit health information and everything. So people can access it. The Philippines

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