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First Monday






This article compares the diffusion of the Internet in China and India. Using a six–dimension framework for characterizing the state of the Internet in a nation, we observe that, while both nations have made significant progress since our last comparison (in 1999), China enjoys a substantial lead over India.

We also examine determinants of Internet diffusion. We find that the Chinese Internet has benefited from economic and trade reform begun in the late 1980s, a strong government commitment to the Internet, complementary human and capital resources, etc. The two nations have very different governments and policies, leading to differing approaches to the introduction of telecommunication competition and infrastructure development. China has pursued a strategy of competition among government–owned organizations while India has set policy via recommendations of publicly visible task forces. It remains to be seen whether India’s relatively transparent and market driven approach to Internet policy (and access) will prove effective in the long run.

India and China have approximately 40 percent of the world population, and most of their inhabitants live in rural villages that lack basic telephone service. If the Internet is to succeed in raising the level of human development and curtailing migration to teeming urban centers, it must succeed in India and China. What we learn there may enable us to provide communication and information to the world's 1.5 million unconnected villages.


Copyright © 2002, First Monday.

Copyright © 2002, Larry Press.

Copyright © 2002, William Foster.

Copyright © 2002, Peter Wolcott.

Copyright © 2002, William McHenry.