By 2020, India will have 600 million internet users, according to a study conducted jointly by the Associated Chambers of Commerce (Assocham) and Deloitte. India’s internet population currently sits at 343 million. With the rise in smartphone usage and increasing penetration of 4G and 3G services, the Internet user base is rapidly expanding and has reached a penetration of over 27 per cent versus 50.3 per cent penetration of China, reveals the study.
However, public Wi-Fi penetration in the country remains low and to reach an optimal level of one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 citizens over 8 million hotspots would be required. Now, there are only 31,000 hotspots available in India. Also, the availability of spectrum in Indian metros is about a tenth of comparable cities in developed countries, the report said.
India is the second largest mobile phone market globally with over 1 billion mobile subscriptions. Out of the total mobile subscribers, smartphone users account for 240 million subscriptions which is expected to grow to 520 million by 2020.
The report further adds that rural adoption of data-enabled devices is expected to increase with the BharatNet initiative under Digital India. As of now, over 55,000 villages remain deprived of mobile connectivity. This is mainly due to the fact that providing mobile connections in such far flung locations is commercially not viable for network providers.
“Challenges in policy, such as taxation, right of way, restrictive regulations etc. are major roadblocks in realising the vision of Digital India. Some of the common policy hurdles include the following lack of clarity in FDI policies, for instance, have impacted the growth of e-commerce. Implementation of the Digital India program has been hampered by contracting challenges such as the projects assigned to PSUs are delayed given challenges related to skills, experience and technical capabilities,” said the study. For the success of the Digital India program, capacity building is crucial. In addition to infrastructure development, digital literacy, skill building and higher adoption of digital solutions is key to program success, it suggested.