India is going through the most significant phase of its digital revolution right now. A larger portion of the country has adopted digital payments and is fine with making video calls. Considering the new normal, educational institutions are shifting the eduction to the internet. Beyond the mainstream, people are looking at other alternatives to conventional means of life. However, it was the humble beginnings of the worldwide web in India that made all of this possible. Today, the internet turns 25 in India, and while most of us are aware of how the Internet has been shaping the lives of Indians over the last two decades, here is how the next 25 years of Indian Internet could look like.

5G, Mobile Data, and faster speeds

India is finally on the verge of developing its first 5G networks. This leap will enable the country to take a big jump in how it uses the Internet. Before 4G became mainstream, tasks like video calls and real-time multiplayer gaming were limited to your home broadband connection. 5G speeds will provide the next step in the implementation of the web in our daily lives.

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Post 5G, speed, and connectivity will only be faster and more reliable in 6G and subsequent networks. More of our day will be spent being connected via our handheld devices. The concept of being offline might even become redundant as people adapt to a 24×7 connected approach. This is already on its way to become the new normal when it comes to mobile connectivity.

“Apart from being one of the largest internet markets in the world, India is also fast becoming a digital economy. Enabled by low tariff and availability of affordable smartphones, it is expected that data consumption per user will increase exponentially in the next five years. Currently, the total consumption of data in India has exceeded 300 PB/day,” said Sachin Kalantri, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Qualcomm India.

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“Today, as most Indians connect to the internet on the go, companies and brands have found new customer touchpoints. Leveraging on this growth in India’s internet-savvy population, several companies are introducing their digital offerings to the consumers. Further, a surge in user-generated content is leading to increased data storage requirements for many of these companies. India is expected to have 920 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025 which will include 88 million 5G connections,” adds Kalantri.

In the future, beyond the 24×7 connected state, users will also rely on data to do more work than ever. Elements like the real-time translation to other languages or a much more immersive, involving the form of eSports could become mainstream.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

AR and VR are one of the biggest talking points globally when it comes to technology. Considered the next big thing, AR and VR are already making significant progress right now. We already have glasses that can take pictures, get information from the web, and show your friends what you’re up to in real-time. The tech could become part of our lives over the next 25 years.

Entire industries and sectors like sports, logistics and supply chain, medical diagnosis, education, and of course, entertainment will change with AR and VR adoption. A majority of things that are out of reach today will likely be an interactive hologram tomorrow. E-commerce is already on its way for transformation. Imagine shopping for clothes and getting the fit of your favorite shirt right while sitting at home. That is just the tip of the iceberg here.

“When India went into a proactive nationwide lockdown to fight the pandemic, our lives changed. As people focused on social distancing, e-commerce became the preferred mode of shopping because of robust supply support chain SOPs and that has been reflected in the way consumers across the country, not just the metros shopped. In the recently concluded sale event, we saw tier-2 and 3 cities feature among the top-selling cities,” said a Flipkart spokesperson.

Artificial Intelligence and the Internet

AI might sound like it is a big deal right now (it in fact is). But, the future will see the unification of tech with the capabilities and reach of the internet and become larger than ever. Everyday gadgets like lights, fans, and appliances will be hooked to the web in the next few years. We have already seen “smart” IoT connected versions of most of such appliances right now.

However, when AI comes into play, automation of many elements based on usage patterns and habits will bring out the best use-cases. Your ‘smart-home’ will become one unified entity that knows when to open the curtains, bolt the doors, set the thermostat, and do the laundry amidst a bunch of other things. If that sounds scary to you, relax! Before we have a real-life Ultron or SkyNet eradicate human life, AI-controlled decision-making will become normal to most people.

The Internet of Things phenomena

With the Internet becoming more mainstream, reliable, and faster, we are not far away from a big IoT boost. Everyday items we use will soon be all connected to the web while working together. The interaction and seamlessness shared today by your phone, earbuds, and smartwatch will expand heavily in the future. Your clothes, backpack, and even your shoes and accessories could soon be smarter, creating a bubble of information around you. You will likely be able to control all these devices through a central device like your phone or a wearable band.

This will allow everything around us to communicate with each other. Your clothes might be able to change color based on your environment, your bag might let you know if you’re running out of space and if the water is leaking in during rains. Even your shoes will be able to tell how fast you’re running and when your laces come undone.

Cloud gaming and content consumption in India

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Unless we’re into specific industries that will make use of a transformed internet in its future state, gaming, entertainment, and on-demand content consumption is where most people would first observe a significant shift. eSports has really seen quite the growth spurt in the last few years. That will only go up moving forward. Thanks to an evolved internet, games will become more interactive, and with AR and VR coming into play, will also feature a whole new level of immersion. Multiplayer gaming could become as popular as today’s outdoor sports.

Meanwhile, content consumption will also be immersive. We would soon have devices and connections that could enable playback at never-seen-before resolutions. We could likely be ‘in’ the videos and live streams thanks to interactive-VR instead if passively consuming content.

But a few road-blocks on the way

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Privacy is the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to the Internet and technology. It is one of the most neglected parts of technology innovation. As immersive the internet and technology are set to become in the coming years, neglect of data privacy is a worrying trend. Most companies have implied that this innovation will likely come at the cost of privacy.

However, this invisible cost may change as internet users become increasingly aware of the pitfalls. With an always-connected life and smart devices all around us, users will either have to make peace with data collection or ensure that a robust data protection framework is present. A legal framework is extremely important as the line between what is acceptable to collect continues to blur away. We’re actually not quite far from that point in time already. Most people today enjoy the benefits of what the web and technology have to offer without realizing what it takes in return. Though, with everything around the new normal, the question that remains is this – Will people still have a choice?

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