PM Modi’s Digital India might not be progressing as well as he had anticipated. According to the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) IMC-Deloitte report released at the recently held ‘India Mobile Congress 2017,’ the overall Internet penetration in the country stands at a disappointing 33 per cent. In fact, what’s more discouraging is the fact, the figure is just 16 percent in the rural areas of the country.

The report revealed that the Indian subcontinent currently occupies the 36th rank, globally, when it comes to internet inclusion based on factors such as availability, affordability, relevance and readiness.

With only 23 per cent, the South Asian country is several miles behind many countries in broadband penetration. As of August this year, India, which has a population of about 1.324 billion, has just around 310 million broadband subscribers.

For the uninitiated, a country’s broadband penetration can be considered a key element in achieving a country’s socio-economic objectives. In fact, a rise in broadband penetration to 60 per cent can result into a potential 5-6 percent increase in the country’s GDP.

Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI believes that the Indian telecom industry has been contributing significantly to the Indian economy. He affirms that the industry has in fact ensured that the Modi government’s Digital India programme is able to reach the farthest corners of the country. He further said, “With the lowest call rates in the world and affordable access to data, the industry truly is at the cusp of a revolution.”

Adding to what Mathews said, PN Sudarshan, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP said, “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.”

The COAI IMC-Deloitte report also highlighted the need and tracking the implementation status of smart cities, smart healthcare, smart money, smart energy and smart agriculture.

In fact, some of the recommendations mentioned in the report regarding building internet connectivity-infrastructure for areas with billions of people included ‘setting aspirational goals,’ ‘increasing planned budgetary allocation and effective usage of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)’ and ‘implementing policies and guidelines to standardise deployment of infrastructure.’

This development was first reported in Bgr.

[Image: MediaLabs]

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