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Number of young browsers on the rise in city

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E-SEARCH: Youngsters surfing the Net at a browsing centre in the city. Photo: G. Moorthy
E-SEARCH: Youngsters surfing the Net at a browsing centre in the city. Photo: G. Moorthy

R. Sairam

Internet cafes come in handy for students in all their work

MADURAI: The number of youngsters taking to the Internet for purposes ranging from academic projects to chatting with someone across the globe is on the rise in the city.

Browsing centres have been a major catalyst in this process as not many are able to buy a computer at home.However, power shutdowns are having an adverse effect on the centres as they occur during prime hours, resulting in loss of business for the day.

Says Lakshmi Swaminathan of Madurai Internet Browsing Centre Owners' Association, "The backup UPS (uninterrupted power supply) lasts for two hours only. So, we have to turn away customers sometimes. Besides the regular power shutdown, lasting about eight hours once a month, there are interruptions once a week also, lasting for a couple of hours, sometimes."

The profile of those coming to the cafes has undergone a sea change over the last few years, as is their usage.

According to a Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited official, perhaps, as many as half of those who access the Internet through its connections are in browsing centres. Besides helping the students to find the requisite information, the net cafes are also used take print outs of information or write in compact discs.

S. Senthil Kumar of Global Web, says, "Some years back, a majority of surfers came only for entertainment purposes. Now more students come for their project purposes. They use the Internet for researching on their subjects."

He says that the cost of operations has come down in recent years. "Internet service providers use to charge as high as Rs.20,000 to Rs.30,000 a month some years back. At present, I pay around Rs.8,000. The Government has also introduced a lot of schemes for broadband connections with reduced price tariff."

S. Srinivasan, who runs a browsing centre in Tiruppalai, says that more and more school students, starting from standard VIII, are taking to the net to find pictures and slides for their projects. The number of users is going up with each passing month, he says.

`Internet Telephony'

Ms. Lakshmi Swaminathan says that while `Internet Telephony' was used widely when it was introduced, the number of users at present has come down. "There are fluctuations in bandwidth. It has lost the advantage it had over the telephone. Besides, the ISD rates have also come down," she says.

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