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4G Connects India but unreachable to rural India

Image Source: iamwire.com

By Durwas Rane

Bangalore, 19th January 2017

The Modi-led government has given a push to digital platforms yet 300 million people do not have access to electricity in India, as per a World Bank report.  Approximately 900 million Indians don’t have access to an Internet connection, according to an American fact tank,the Pew Research Center. There were merely 109 million cellular internet connections in rural India by 2015; most of these connections are limited to tier five and six cities.
Bharti Airtel was the first carrier to launch 4G network in India and there were five million 4G users in the country in financial year 2016.

According to a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch It is expected that India will have 18 crore 4G handsets and nine crore 4G users by 2020.
India boasts an array of top IT companies and digital startups which provide employment to a large chunk of the population in the country, yet they are limited to metro cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi.  The mobile internet user base has increased from 301 million users in 2015 to 462 million in 2016. Yet high speed cellular internet (3G\4G) connectivity is limited to urban India only.

Here’s a look at some facts:

OpenSignal, an independent website with over 15 million downloads worldwide, gives an insight into India’s internet coverage and signal quality of mobile operators. This app constantly monitors the coverage of  users and offers coverage strength graphically on the map, here are a few graphically representations of the network coverage across the country.

India may have the world’s largest internet user base following China, but connectivity is still an issue in 2017.  In the pictures below, OpenSignal has collected this data with the help of their users and network operators combined.

4G network Coverage in South, West and East India

4G network coverage in Central, West and East India

4G network coverage in Northeast and central India

4G network coverage in North India

This graphical representation from Opensignal  indicates the availability of 4G network connectivity provided combined by all carriers. To view network quality in your region.    
“As the world is becoming interconnected, both socially and economically, using the internet is considered as basic human right,” said Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
Providing Internet pan-India has its unique challenges which are yet to be addressed. Here are a few difficulties which are commonly raised by experts:

Infrastructure

Infrastructure development is key to providing much needed boost to the growth of the industry.  Large parts of India’s electrification project are on paper where only 69 per cent of homes have electricity connection, according to the report from CEEW and ACCESS
Installing fiber optic cable across India is an expensive task and is not feasible considering the difficult geographical terrain. Getting 3G does not ensure fast internet as speeds vary based on terrain."Across India, the connections are patchy, 3G normally works at the speed of 2G," said Nilotpal Chakravarti, a spokesman for Internet and Mobile Association of India to CNN.
Things get more complicated in states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Bihar where mobile towers are destroyed in the forests by Maoists and Naxalites to establish fear amongst the villagers.In regions where high speed internet is accessible, job opportunities have grown. Freelance journalists like Mr. Rizwan Gangavaly, who writes for Bhatkallys, an online news portal based in coastal town of Bhatkal, Karnataka said, “My town was portrayed in bad light by the mainstream media after the arrest of terrorist Yasin Bhatkal so the locals funded for this website to reach the masses. Decent high-speed network in our town is helping us to cover more events and share the news locally and internationally,” he added.

Affordability

The Smart phone market boomed in 2016 with the entry of affordable 4G devices from Chinese and Indian manufactures. Reliance Jio’s free 4G internet offer has already attracted almost 74 million within 4 months of its launch. Now Jio is planning to launch an affordable 4G handset at price between Rs.1000 to Rs. 1500.
In 2016, Internet data pack rates went down 67 per cent for a few major service providers like Idea, Airtel and Vodafone. These affordable rates are now attracting young farmers and engineering students.
Raj Raorane, 21, a resident of Phonda Ghat, a village situated at the foothills of Sayadhri ranges in Maharashtra said, “Although I own a budget 4G handset, it’s tough to obtain strong 3G network in my village. A simple task like finding the meaning of a word is a task because I need to climb on the roof to maintain speed.”
While 4G network is sporadic in the country, the availability of 2G network is consistent across India. But, surfing the Internet with a speed as low as 56 kbps is time consuming and irksome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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