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Interview Suneet Singh: Bridging the Digital Divide for the Forgotten

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PUNJAB, India—Suneet Singh Tuli is the co-founder and CEO and president of Canada-based DataWind, known the world over for its innovative and affordable Akash tablets designed to revolutionise education in India before creating a worldwide storm.

The civil engineer from the University of Toronto has an entrepreneurial spirit which also led to him setting up a manufacturing unit of large-format scanning and plotting equipment and portable imaging peripherals, employing over 250 people in the US, Canada, England, Germany and India.

He tells India Inc. about DataWind’s plans to move in on the affordable smartphone market and where the Digital India programme fits in with the Ontario-headquartered company’s ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’ slogan.

What is the unique selling point (USP) of DataWind?

DataWind’s innovations have always been focussed to break the affordability barrier and provide internet access to empower the billions of people globally who are left out of the digital age. Our patented technology allows for a fast, rich and affordable experience on existing networks without any new infrastructure.

This is achieved by our breakthrough delivery platform invented by our founder and co-chairman Raja Singh Tuli. Covered by 18 US and international patents, this technology is offered through DataWind’s UbiSurfer browser on its tablets and smartphones, it reduces bandwidth consumption by factors of 10x to 30x to render a fast and rich desktop-like web experience even on traditional GPRS/EDGE 2.5G mobile networks in five to seven seconds. Utilising this technology, DataWind has been successful in providing free internet on the entire range of its low cost internet connectivity devices.

How does your technology scale up globally?

There are over 4 billion digitally disenfranchised citizens of the world (in India alone, close to a billion) – ones who are yet to join the internet age and yet to experience empowerment and freedom that comes with immense knowledge accessible through internet. In India, these are the forgotten billion.