Internet penetration in rural India abysmal: Report

New Delhi: While the overall Internet penetration in India is 33 per cent, it is only 16 per cent in the rural areas, a report released at the ‘India Mobile Congress 2017′ here said on Friday.

According to the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) IMC-Deloitte report, India currently ranks 36th, globally, in Internet inclusion based on availability, affordability, relevance and readiness.

India lags behind many countries in broadband penetration with only 23 per cent, which comes to around 310 million subscribers as of August, 2017.

The rise in broadband penetration, which is considered a key element in achieving a country’s socio-economic objectives, to 60 per cent could translate into a 5-6 per cent increase in the GDP.

“The telecom industry is contributing significantly to the Indian economy. The industry has ensured that the government’s Digital India programme reaches the farthest corners of the country,” said Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI.

“With the lowest call rates in the world and affordable access to data the industry truly is at the cusp of revolution,” he added.

Some of the key recommendations in the report for building connectivity-infrastructure for billions included ‘setting aspirational goals’, ‘increasing planned budgetary allocation and effective usage of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)’, ‘implementing policies and guidelines to standardise deployment of infrastructure’.

The report also noted Net Neutrality as a continuous area of debate. It also underlined the need to define the regulatory guidelines towards new emerging technologies which are giving rise to new use cases.

“Telecom is redefining mobility, work, governance, etc. and will promote geographical, financial and social inclusion and enable the interplay of technologies and industries for exponential growth propelling India towards a $5 trillion economy,” added PN Sudarshan, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP.

The report also addressed the need and implementation status of smart cities, smart healthcare, smart money, smart energy and smart agriculture.