IT companies bear the brunt of internet gag in Kashmir

IT companies bear the brunt of internet gag in Kashmir

‘Several tech-based projects in limbo; 15,000 IT workers impacted’

Ambitious projects being handled by local Information Technology companies are in a limbo now as the 3G/4G internet services continue to be suspended forcing these firms to suffer massive losses, many IT stakeholders said on Wednesday.

Jehangir Raina, president, Information Communications Technology Association of J&K (ICTA) a conglomerate of 45 IT companies said high-speed mobile internet has become backbone for micro and smaller companies who cannot afford lease lines and radio links. 

“Out of the 15,000 workforce which means 3000-4000 IT set-ups, majority of them are impacted due to the internet gag. It is only 30 odd companies who operate with a lease line. What will be the fate of thousands of other companies in times of internet suspension one wonders,” Raina said. “Micro and small firms are unable to secure lease lines and radio links as they can either not afford these or else the hassle of getting these lines is too much for them,” Raina added.

Past president, ICTA and owner of an IT company, Meraj Gulzar said previously even during strikes and restrictions, IT workforce was able to operate from home but now lack of high speed internet on mobile phones has put brakes on this practice.

“In IT there is always an option of work from home but lack of internet has resulted into a drop of such opportunities. Tech companies have minimized hiring permanent employees because of the uncertain business environment and frequent internet blockades,” Gulzar said.  

Gulzar said tech companies are suffering huge business losses as they are not able to provide services to their outside clients on time.

“This has hit our credibility as most the large corporate based in various metro cities and abroad don’t realize the hardships we face here. They don’t buy the internet ban theory as they consider it just an excuse to delay projects,” Gulzar said.  

Meanwhile internet gag is also making owners of IT related start-up firms hesitant to make further investments.

Yafer Nazir who runs an IT firm says his company has missed out on several projects due to the suspension of 3G/4G services adding that he is "contemplating before taking up any new projects now".  

“We were handling a project related to Facebook as a part of which we had to involve social networking users. But since 3G/4G has been suspended so the involvement from target audience in Kashmir for the project is nil,” he says. 

E-commerce retail business have also received a blow due to suspension of mobile internet and in absence of 3G and 4G “e-commerce companies lose out on important clients.”

“Commercial broadband connections are not stable so no work happens. In absence of 3G/4G, broadband too has been playing hide and seek and if you are dealing with e-commerce you are badly hit. 70 per cent people book orders through mobile phone so suspension of services hits business” said an e-commerce player.