This year's Independence Day marked the 24th anniversary of the internet in India.
Now, at first, this doesn't seem much of a deal, but the fact is, these 24 years have completely changed how millions of people connect, communicate.
The internet we use so easily today was a rare luxury back in the day, one that truly costed a fortune.
On 15 August 1995, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, aka present-day Tata Communications, launched internet for the public for the first time.
It was available in select regions as part of dial-up and leased line broadband services and offered incredibly slow speeds by today's standards.
However, eventually, the service expanded, the speeds improved, and we got 2G, 3G, and finally 4G-based wireless web connectivity.
Notably, it isn't just the speed/coverage of the internet that has improved; the prices have also fallen.
Back in the day, VSNL's base leased-line plan promising 9.6kbps of speed for non-commercial users was priced at Rs. 2.4 lakh/year, while the top-end plan with 128kbps came at Rs. 10 lakh/year.
This didn't even include the cost of physical link, which had to be paid separately.
While the plans for non-commercial users went up to Rs. 10 lakh, other parties - commercial users, exporters, service providers - had to pay even more. According to The Indian Techonomist, their plans went up to Rs. 30 lakh/year.
Along with leased line connections, customers also had the option to go for a dial-up broadband connection.
However, it only came as part of a single plan that promised 9.6kbps of speeds for 250 hours and required non-commercial users to pay Rs. 15,000/year.
Commercial users were charged more for the same plan, according to reported annual charges.
From those days, internet services have evolved in more ways than you could imagine.
Today, 4G connections from telcos like Jio and Airtel offer high-speed internet and plenty of data at tempting prices.
Plus, fiber-to-the-home networks - like Jio Fiber Services - have also started promising speeds ranging between 100Mbps to 1Gbps at affordable rates.
To put things into perspective, even if we assume that the users got consistent speed of 9.6kbps, they could only consume less than 10GB/year, as only 250 hours/year were allowed. In 2019 prices, it means 1 GB of data would have costed you Rs. 6,100.
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