Over the years, the Government of India has taken several steps to ensure equitable internet access across the country. Setting up the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), a non-profit company with the objective of facilitating improved internet services in the country, has been one among such steps. NIXI was set up for peering of internet service providers (ISPs) among themselves for the purpose of routing domestic traffic within the country, instead of taking it all the way to a foreign country, thereby ensuring better quality of service, reducing latency and reducing bandwidth charges for ISPs. Since 2003, NIXI has been working towards broadening internet technology by establishing internet exchanges between ISPs and content delivery networks (CDNs). Over the years, the company has expanded and added domain and internet protocol addresses as part of its portfolios. In fact, the company is now selling and managing the country’s top-level internet domain “.in” and has more than 2.4 million partners in this space. In an interview with tele.net, Anil Kumar Jain, chief executive officer, NIXI, discusses the company’s role in India’s evolving internet space, the efforts for promoting content in local languages and future plans and strategies. Edited excerpts…
How has India’s internet and broadband space transformed during the past few years? What role is NIXI playing in the country’s evolving internet space?
India is going through the most significant phase of digital revolution right now. A large part of the country has adopted digital payments and is comfortable with making video calls. Considering the new normal, educational institutions are shifting education to the internet. Beyond the mainstream, people are looking at alternatives to the conventional ways of life.
NIXI works to facilitate the exchange of domestic internet traffic between the peering ISP, content players and any other organisations with their own autonomous system (AS) number. This enables more efficient use of international bandwidth, saving of foreign exchange, and improvement of quality of service. Since December 2012, NIXI has been managing the national internet registry of the country, delegation of internet protocol addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) and AS numbers to its affiliates. NIXI is authorised by the Government of India to sell and manage “.in”’ and “.bharat” domains.
What efforts is NIXI making to promote content development and consumption in local languages?
At present, digital content in local languages is quite low in India. NIXI has made it possible to have a domain in all 22 official languages, which is the highest number in the world. Further, NIXI has started various initiatives such as Wikipedia contests and website development challenges to promote content development in local languages. This will encourage every Indian to adopt the internet. Moreover, NIXI is aligning its objectives with the government’s objectives to connect every Indian to broadband.
How will the onset of 5G services alter India’s internet landscape?
The 5G network will enable the country to transform how it uses the internet in a big way. 5G speeds will provide the next step in the implementation of the web in our daily lives. Apart from being one of the largest internet markets in the world, India is fast becoming one of the world’s longest digital economies. Enabled by low tariffs and the availability of affordable smartphones, it is expected that data consumption per user will increase exponentially in the next five years. In addition to individual customers, 5G deployment will accelerate Industrial Revolution 4.0. It is also expected that 5G will increase the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) by the industry and the public at large.
What are the key challenges that you face? How do you plan to address them?
Broadband delivery to every Indian at affordable rates is the main objective of NIXI. We feel that digital education is key to the digital economy. We are still working with infrastructure, which is largely imported. The prime minister’s call for “Atmanirbhar Bharat” and “Vocal for Local” is helping the development of local manufacturing.
What are NIXI’s future plans and focus areas?
NIXI’s mission is to be the leader in internet facilitation and provide ISPs with an affordable, safe and secure internet environment in the country. NIXI’s vision is to be among the top 200 companies in India, which facilitate fault-free service in the country, develop multi-stakeholder consultation in various internet policy initiatives, and develop start-ups to excel in the development of cloud, AI, machine-to-machine, and augmented reality/virtual reality for application.