With a quarter billion mobile phone users, India is no stranger to technology. Up until recently, however, broadband Internet access was only available to a few. Although the number of broadband subscribers is growing rapidly, less than 0.5% of the entire population has an Internet connection.
Times are changing though. After the mobile phone revolution managed to get more than 250 million Indians connected, the government is now aiming to increase broadband Internet penetration in India. The current target is 20 million broadband subscribers by the end of 2010, and 50 million by 2012, a 1000% increase compared to approximately 5 million now.
The increase in the number of Indian BitTorrent users compared to previous years has not gone unnoticed. Mininova, for example, is reporting a 300% increase in traffic from India compared to last year, and for most BitTorrent sites India recently entered the top 10 of traffic sources. If the target of 20 million broadband subscribers is indeed reached, India will be the number one traffic source for most BitTorrent sites by the end of 2010.
Of course, BitTorrent indexers are not the only sites that are affected by the growing levels of Internet access in India, but they do tend to be traffic magnets. Data from the traffic comparison site Alexa shows that there are three BitTorrent sites among the 100 most visited websites in India. Mininova, Torrentz and The Pirate Bay are listed in 39th, 46th and 100th place respectively, and isoHunt is not far behind.
Two factors that have undoubtedly contributed to the popularity of BitTorrent, are the availability of unlimited data plans and an increase in connection speeds. In India, most ISPs initially offered metered plans, where 1 GB of data cost somewhere around $10. Today however, almost every ISP has an unlimited plan with a decent download speed for $50 (which is a lot in India), as well as lower rate plans with reasonable speed limits.
After China, India has the highest growth rate of all emerging economies in the world, and Internet access is quickly becoming affordable to a larger group of people. So, don’t be surprised when you see hundreds of Indian IPs in your peers list in a few years from now, if the Internet hasn’t collapsed by then.