Chronology of the Internet in India
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1986: ERNET project starts up; email exchange using UUCP protocol established between National Centre for Software Technology, Bombay and IIT Bombay (Bombay was renamed Mumbai in 1995)

1987: Email exchange between ERNET institutions in metros; TCP over X.25 established between the ERNET gateway at NCST and Internet via CWI in Amsterdam

1988: TCP/IP connection between ERNET’s gateway at NCST and UUNET’s gateway in Falls Church, USA; domain registration for Internet access initiated on behalf of ERNET by the ERNET team at NCST, Bombay

1988: Leased lines used to connect ERNET partner institutions to ERNET gateway in Bombay

1989: LWBBS (Live Wire BBS) and BBS CiX launch online services; VSNL commissions a Gateway Packet Switching System (GPSS) running X.25 protocol; ERNET acquires an analog leased line operating at 9600 bps to connect ERNET gateway at NCST, Bombay to UUNET in the US

1990: TCP/IP implemented for communication between ERNET centres connected by leased lines

1991: LWBBS turns into a paid subscription service and expands to other cities such as Ahmedabad, Madras (Chennai), Pune, Calcutta (Kolkatta), Baroda, Vapi

1992: ERNET’s overseas link from Bombay to Falls Church upgraded to a 64 Kbps digital leased line

1993: Business India launches aXcess, a value-added services offering e-mail as well as e-news, stock quotes

1994: ERNET establishes a hub in Bangalore to provide TCP/IP level connectivity over satellite links to locations otherwise unreachable by dedicated circuits

1995: VSNL introduces public Internet access in India via dialup services in 6 cities on Aug 15,1995; IndiaWorld portal launches on March 13

1996: Major newspapers such as The Times of India, The Hindu, The Indian Express and Hindustan Times set up websites; launched; India’s first Cyber Café launched in Mumbai

1997: Tamil newspaper Dinamani sets up website; Hotmail creator Sabeer Bhatia sells Hotmail to Microsoft for $400 million; first online banking site launched by ICICI Bank; launched (this becomes one of India’s first profitable dotcoms); IndusInd also launches Web site; cricket site launched, Linux India movement founded

1998: Private ISPs allowed to set up Internet infrastructure; LWBBS’s Pune node, JabberWocky operated by WMI becomes first ISP licensee; Sify becomes India’s first national ISP license holder; first major hacking case (teenagers hack data on BARC’s servers); launch of NASSCOM to promote IT industry by efforts of Dewang Mehta; cybercafés start mushrooming across Indian cities; annual India Internet World conference series starts in Pragati Maidan

1999: Indiaworld sold to SIFY for US $115 million (Rs 499 crore) triggering the dotcom boom in India; Hindi portal Webdunia launched; large number of dotcoms appear, mostly modeled as e-marketplaces but have untested revenue models and big spends; Webdunia, India’s first and most successful Hindi portal launched; Sify lists on NASDAQ (first Indian Internet company to list in USA and second in any category); Sify sets up hundreds of public Internet kiosks under the brand name i-Way; New Telecom Policy 1999 launched by DoT; Indian ISPs allowed to set up satellite international gateways; IndiaInfo portal launched.

2000: Parliament passes Information Technology Act 2000; foreign portals like Yahoo and MSN set up Indian sites; launched based on the eBay’s model; launched with Rs 4.5 crore campaign blitz; birth of online journalism: exposes cricket betting scandal; ITC launches e-Choupal initiative to take the Internet to the villages; Railtel Corporation of India launched; NSE launches online stocktrading; cable Internet starts replacing dialup Internet connections; 2000: Rediff IPO on NASDAQ; legal entity founded in Austin, Texas

2001: Subscription sites set up by and; Times of India group launches 8888 mobile service; India Today group launches 2424 mobile service; first cybercrime related arrest (two arrested for hacking; Indian Railways launches online ticketing site ( which soon becomes India’s largest e-revenue earner; India’s first cyber crime police station opens in Bangalore; Dotcom bubble bursts – many sites close, some go into hibernation; C-DAC announced the launch of its Multilingual Advanced News Automation System: MANAS; GAIL India launched; Andhra Pradesh state government launches e-procurement portal and extends public Internet kiosk facility to every mandal office

2002:, the website of weekly Malayalam magazine, launches paid site; NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) initiative launched; India’s first teleradiology company Teleradiology Solutions launched; Indian ISPs allowed to set up submarine international gateways; adds Assamese, Punjabi, Nepali, Oriya, Malayalam content

2003: AirDeccan launches India’s first online air ticketing site; NIXI (National Internet Exchange of India) set up; WiFi (2.4GHz) deregulated by GoI; official representation from India’s DoT and DIT at WSIS 2003 in Geneva; AirTel launches broadband Internet access; adds Bhojpuri, Marathi, Kannada, Hindi, Kashmiri, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Sindhi content

2004: DoT declares its Broadband Policy; BSNL introduces broadband; e-Bay buys; buys; NIXI takes over the management of the .IN Registry; ITC e-Choupal demonstrates rural Internet adoption; Google starts India office; adds Bengali, Urdu content; Sulekha starts India operations; eBay India CEO arrested for alleged sale of porn online, but later released — the arrest is highly criticised by industry

2005: Social networking sites like Orkut make their presence felt; online registration of .IN domains begins; Indic language user interface appear on basic cellphones

2006: Facebook makes India debut; portal launched; National E-Governance Plan launched; IPO in India

2007: Major media websites switch to tab-based design arrives; re-launched as a travel portal by Sabir Bhatia; Twitter makes its India debut; Google News launches Hindi service

2008: India sets a world record by sending 10 satellites into orbit in a single launch; Apple i-Phone debut in India; Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in India; Google News launches in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu

2009: GoI puts forth the draft policy on Indian language IDNs, IITs and IIMs use Moodle course management systems

2010: 3G spectrum auctioned to telecom players after two-year-long process; WiMax licenses auctioned; GoI announces National IPv6 Roadmap; TRAI releases National Broadband Plan; MakeMyTrip lists on NASDAQ at over US $ 1 billion; Facebook overtakes Orkut in India, Google India announces the availability of Google transliteration in 14 Indian languages, Nokia launches Life Tools service via Internet/SMS

2011: Mobile number portability launched; ICANN approves 7 Indian language Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) for India; iPad enters India market after its Dell and Samsung rivals; Pearson Group takes controlling stake in e-education startup TutorVista; Indian government launches National Knowledge Network (NKN); Indian Internet startups Komli Media, bag $21 million venture capital deals; India’s 2011 census uses social media; IIT courses, lectures made available online, Deadline of December 2011 for major telecom operators to adopt IPv6. In December 2011, India became the world’s third largest Internet consumer country with over 121 million users; the Government of India approved the creation of NOFN (National Optic Fibre Network).

2012: Internet reaches 2.5 billion users worldwide, IPv4 addresses exhausted,ICANN opens up unlimited gTLD space (1,900+ new TLDs applied for), .org reaches the 10 million registrations mark. India’s Internet user base estimated at 120 million people (or about 10% of the 1.2 billion population). Mobile Internet users estimated at 87 million. E-commerce revenues in India estimated at $14 billion (up from $6.3 billion in 2011). On average, Indians spend about 20-25 hours per month online. Online games are accessed by nearly 50 per cent of the users. Tablet computer sales estimated at 3 million. Flipkart raised $150 million (about Rs 822 crore) from four investors. Estimated users of social media in India – Facebook: 36 million; Twitter, LinkedIn: 15 million each. But concerns raised over online hate campaign targeting people from Northeast India. Bharti Airtel Launches India’s first 4G LTE (dongle-based) services in Kolkata; arrest of two Mumbai girls over Facebook postings sparks outrage across India; India gets its own version of Cyber Monday called ‘Great Online Shopping Festival’ on 12 December.

2013: India launches National Internet Registry under the name of Indian Registry for Internet Names and Numbers (IRINN); as of May 31 there are 161 ISPs offering broadband services; the top five ISPs in terms subscriber base are BSNL (9.96 million), Bharti Airtel (1.40 million), MTNL (1.09 million), Hathway (0.36 million) and You Broadband (0.31 million); Ibibo, owned by South African investment firm Naspers, acquires Redbus, India’s biggest online bus ticketing company, for $138 Million (Rs.780 Crores) in June; Internet subscribers in India touches 238.71 million in December 2013; Myntra acquires San Francisco-based Fitiquette (virtual fitting room); Amazon starts Cash on Delivery option in India; Flipkart launches its own payment gateway PayZippy; Jabong launches its third party logistics firm JaVAS and later sells it off QuickDel Logistics.

2014: India is the third-largest online market with more than 198 million Internet users (after China, US); India becomes the second-largest mobile market with over 900 million users, after China; 38 per cent of those who use the Internet at home or at work come from the 25-34 age bracket; men dominate Internet usage with 61 per cent to women’s 39 per cent; average daily online usage in the country amounts to 5.1 hours among Internet users; in February, the debate on network neutrality gathers public attention after Airtel says companies offering free messaging apps like Skype, Line and WhatsApp should be regulated similar to telecom operators; in India’s largest e-commerce deal, Flipkart acquires, India’s largest online fashion retailer, at more than $300 million (Rs. 200 crore) in May; India’s largest e-Commerce company Flipkart raises $1 million (Rs. 6,000 crore) in funding, the largest ever for an Indian Internet firm, in June; there are approximately 82 million 3G subscribers in India (end of 2014) and the number is projected to reach 284 million by end of year 2017; in August, TRAI rejects a proposal from telcos to make messaging application firms share revenue with carriers or government; in October, Vodafone India suggests companies like Facebook and WhatsApp should be taxed to ensure a level playing field with telecos; in December, Airtel India announces additional charges for making voice calls (VoIP) from its network using apps like WhatsApp, Skype.

2015: On 10 February, Facebook launches in India in partnership with Reliance Communications; on 27 March, TRAI releases a formal consultation paper on Regulatory Framework for OTT services, seeking comments from the public; on 11 April , a YouTube comedy channel, All India Bakchod, uploads a video titled ‘Save The Internet’, which urges people to email TRAI demanding Net Neutrality; organisations under the ambit of Free Software Movement of India organise protests on 23 April; Flipkart decides to pull out of Airtel Zero on 14 April; on 17 December, Facebook starts an aggressive Rs 300-crore ‘Free Basics’ campaign; on 30 December, industry bodies IAMAI and Nasscom oppose blanket differential pricing; the number of Internet users in India is expected to reach 402 million by December 2015, registering a growth of 49 per cent over last year (IAMAI); there are 988.7 million mobile connections in India as of August 2015 (TRAI); Digital India project is launched in August 2015.

2016: TRAI takes a revolutionary decision on February 8, prohibiting telecom service providers in India from levying discriminatory rates for data, thus ruling in favour of Net Neutrality; World Development Report 2016 states that India has the largest number of offline individuals at 1.063 billion, a little less than the next three largest offline populations in the world — China, Indonesia and Pakistan; TRAI announces India has crossed one billion mobile subscriptions; Netflix and Amazon Prime come to India with their video streaming services; Reliance Jio is launched in September with the world’s cheapest data rates and free voice calls, changing the game in the country’s telecom market; India overtakes US to become second largest population of Internet users at 227 million, second only to China; Ministry of Urban Development ties up with Google Maps to provide locations of 4,000 community and public toilets; Mainstream Indian production houses begin to invest in Web series, giving viewers a chance to discover homegrown talent; In May 2016, the Central Monitoring System was reported to be operational in New Delhi and Mumbai, allowing direct government surveillance of online traffic; Internet freedom declined slightly in 2016 with a number of network work shutdowns, offsetting gains made in 2014 and 2015; India becomes the number one global market for time spent on Android; Indian language Internet users grow from 42 million in 2011 to 234 million in 2016.

2017: India Records 87% growth in average Internet speed in Q1 2017; India’s smartphone shipments continue to grow 15 per cent year-on-year; in the first half of 2017, Chinese players like XiaomiOppo, Vivo continue to make gains with smartphones getting cheaper and better while Indian players like LavaMicromax and Jio fight for the low-cost 4G feature phone; mobile Web traffic is 80 per cent, which is well above the global average, and based on the chart second to Nigeria; by March 2017, the average cost of 1GB of data was down by 20% among incumbents, and if one were to include Jio, the average cost per GB stood at $0.33 or Rs 21 by March 2017; Google Chrome reaches 32% of the market share in India; WhatsApp becomes India’s top downloaded Android app, followed by Facebook Messenger; UPI-based payments, allowing for bank-to-bank transfers via mobile, stood at $359 million till March 2017; PayTM alone reaches 150 million users in India; Central government allocates budget to make 6 crore additional indivdiuals digitally literate; Ransomware attack hits India in May.

2018: Prime Minister Research Fellows launched in February to promote development through innovation; Innovate India Platform launched in July as a joint effort by Atal Innovation Mission and MyGov; Government unveils the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 to attract USD 100 billion worth of investment and generate 4 million jobs by 2022; Union budget witnesses a massive push to Digital India with an allocation of Rs.10,000 crore to set up five lakh hotspots across the country; India promises to out 5G services in the market by 2020; Government increases basic customs duty to 20% leading to rise in smartphone process by 4 per cent; Mobile broadband subscribers reaches 400 million in April; Jio surfaces as the strongest network with 48% share of total mobile subscribers in India; Wireless subscription in urban areas increases by 1.27 per cent in June 2018.

2019: 560 million internet users, 41% penetration in India; 46.44% smartphone penetration rate; Kerala High Court declares that access to Internet is part of the fundamental right to education and right to privacy; Department of Telecommunications launches 5G trials; BharatNet program aims to link 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through optical fiber network;  RBI advises all PSOs to follow data localisation; Government inks pact with IBM to conduct a pilot study on using AI and weather technology solutions in agriculture; SpaceX sends 60 small satellites into LEO to supply low-cost internet; Personal Data Protection Bill is introduced.   

2020: 602 million internet users, 43% penetration in India; 54.23% smartphone penetration rate; Smartphone availability increases to 61.8% in rural India; Amid Covid, OTT platforms become the mainstream with paid subscriptions being up by 55-60%; NCB attracts the country’s first ‘darknet’ narcotics operative; Schools begin to move education online amid covid shutdowns; Conversations about regulating AI start in the West led by prominent tech moguls like Musk; NIC sets up CoR in Blockchain Technology in Bengaluru; Supreme Court sets aside RBI’s April 2018 circular banning regulated financial institutions from trading in cryptocurrency; Inflight Wi-Fi is announced in India; DNA Technology (Use and Application) regulation bill is introduced; BSNL partners with Skylotech India and announces world’s first satellite-based narrowband-IoT network in India; Health Data Management Policy is launched.

2021: 624 million internet users, 45% penetration in India; 60.63% smartphone penetration rate; US India Artificial Intelligence (UISIAI) is launched for working in the field of AI; Reports claim that the use of drones and satellite imaging could be made mandatory for the insured; Reliance Jio, Bharat Airtel, and Vodafone Idea received a six-month extension to conduct 5G trails till May 2022; MeitY releases national strategy on Blockchain; Companies switch to hybrid working conditions amid Covid.

2022: 658 million internet users, 47% penetration in India; 66.21% smartphone penetration rate; 31% of the rural population uses the internet whereas 67% of the urban population uses the internet; Digital payments grew 13% (reaching 338 million users) of which 36% are from rural India; Kerala becomes the first state to have its own internet service, K-FON; Capturing attendance via NMMS app is made compulsory for MGNREGA worksite with 20 or more workers; TEC releases Code of Practice for securing consumer Internet of Things; Net neutrality debate resurfaces as telecom operators back a proposal to regulate content delivery networks; Telangana launches space tech framework; MeitY releases a revised Draft National Data Governance Framework Policy; KITE offers fake news prevention and awareness training for 19.72 lakh students of class 5-10; Center announces that digitally marking MGNREGA attendance is to be done through the NMMS app.

2023: 692 million internet users, 48.7% penetration in India; 70.95% smartphone penetration rate; Generative AI surfaces in tech companies around the world; India releases ‘Bharat 6G Vision’ document; Digital Personal Data Protection Bill becomes an Act; Linking Aadhaar with PAN becomes mandatory; Manipur faces over 100 days of internet shut down.