tech2 News StaffNov 19, 2015 11:56:18 IST
Lately an IAMAI report pointed out how Internet users in India are expected to reach 402 million by December 2015. While the numbers show an exponential rise, are we really on a swift progressive path when it comes to Internet in India. Considering several factors responsible for Internet (desktop as well as mobile), today's discussion is about state of Internet in India. Here's what the Tech2 team has to say.
India’s mobile and Internet growth is becoming a cause of concern for many. And, why not? It’s a lucrative emerging market to look upon as the developed markets reach a point of stagnation. A recent report highlights the new milestone of reaching 402 million Internet users by 2015, which is a whopping 49 percent increase compared to last year. The numbers look great, but there are many factors that these fancy numbers just can’t overshadow.
Firstly, it’s the mobile segment that has given a push to Internet growth in India. That’s one reason why companies like Facebook and Google ‘aspire’ to get billions of Indians online, who aren’t yet connected. However, we need to fix 3G and 4G infrastructure and costs, which seem like bigger hurdles. In terms of Internet speed too, we still lag way behind others. In fact, India is amongst the slowest with 2.3Mbps average speed.
Apart from the constant delays thanks to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) intervening with telecom operators, there is another growing problem and that seems to be emanating from the 4G delays and the lack of reliable services. Consumers are buying future-proof 3G/4G-capable smartphones just to use them on 2G networks.
As a recent study from Nokia Networks points out, just 144 million users out of 225 million 3G smartphone owners have actually subscribed to a 3G connection. Clearly, Indians want faster mobile internet services (and future-proof smartphones) but the prices for data services needs to drop. More importantly, those services need to be reliable for subscribers to take the cake and upgrade to faster 3G (first) or LTE networks.
According to Ericsson's report published yesterday, India recorded the fastest mobile growth between July to September 2015. Unfortunately, as Sheldon pointed out above, only a small percentage of these mobile phone users are on a reliable fast 3G connection.
Most ISPs in India struggle to provide a reliable 2Mbps connection. Most towns haven't experienced even the internet! This leaves the door open to companies such as Facebook to dangle their Free Basics plan, which is unfortunate. Even telcos have been offering app specific plans for some time now.
I feel we still have miles to go as far as internet access in India is concerned. And while we should be proud about the mobile boom in the country, we clearly shouldn't settle for shoddy internet services.
We have lower internet speeds compared to many other regions in the world that matter. It's difficult for the common man to adopt to an irrepressible service. While tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft are enabling access to the internet globally in the simplest manner, tons of obstacles in India might prolong the process.
Currently, the fastest growing segment in India is 4G LTE, while 2G and 3G might slowly fade away. The country is gearing up to welcome the new technology and in a few years, with the right mind and infrastructure, India might be number one to offer the best internet services!
At the risk of stating the obvious, we seem to agree that connections are choppy. Well, the TRAI feels the same about call quality as well. Somehow, they both indicate poor quality infrastructure. The obvious cause is service providers, essentially telecom companies. There can be no excuse for shoddy service.
Probably, a heavy penalty for bad connectivity needs to be levied upon service providers. Higher data costs might work better for those who demand reliability. But a slower and unstable data connection definitely hinders the cause of a Digital India!
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