NET NEWS: Indian Internet Plan Kaput

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Science  02 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5544, pp. 963
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5544.963b

A stalled plan to build a state-of-the-art Internet in India appears to have fallen apart with a decision last month by its U.S. partner, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, to pull out.

India's Department of Telecommunications (DOT) signed an agreement 3 years ago with a CMU spin-off company, IUNet, to set up and split roughly 50/50 the cost of the $250 million high-speed network. Called Sankhya Vahini, it would have linked over 100 research institutions as well as businesses at multigigabit speeds using fiber-optic cable already laid (Science, 4 February 2000, p. 763). The Indian Cabinet approved the deal in January 2000.

But the plan never got moving in India, and in a 17 October letter to the Indian prime minister, CMU professors V. S. Arunachalam and Raj Reddy say they have “decided to abandon” the project. The letter cites the DOT's failure to sanction the network and to deal with a public lawsuit claiming it wouldn't be secure. CMU had spent $1 million to design the network and was “ready to roll,” says Arunachalam. Indian officials say the government will proceed anyway, but observers in the country are skeptical.

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