The role of ICT and broadband for the development of the Indian society

The Indian mobile market – Travel report part five (of five)

Challenges for India 

The role of ICT and broadband for development of India was discussed at the ITS India 2012 conference. Many problems like poverty, illiteracy, lack of healthcare, lack of water supply and other kinds of infrastructure were mentioned by several speakers. Especially for rural areas (with 70% of the population) ICT, broadband and Internet access were mentioned as being essential for development of education, healthcare and government functions.

The number of broadband connections were 14 million 2011, where 3 million is mobile broadband. As mentioned by Desi Valli in his talk “Mobile Internet and data services in emerging economies” mobile data usage in India currently is negligible. But at the same time mobile voice services are almost saturated with more than 700 million active voice users. Hence, there mobile broadband would offer a large opportunity.

 “An affordability gap”  

This mismatch between mobile data usage and voice usage in many developing countries was also mentioned by Suneet Singh Tuli in his presentation “The Internet revolution act 2”.  He discussed in terms of “an affordability gap” for both devices as well as for networks and content. The penetration of both PC´s and fixed broadband is currently very low and mobile devices will be the first (and only) way many people can use in order to access the Inetrnet. The price for devices needs to go down implying questions like:  

  • What if devices for computing/internet access could be delivered ´profitably´
    for the (current) cost of a mobile phone?
  • Is 35$ or 60$ an affordable price for a tablet or smartphone?

 Reflections

One conclusion, mentioned by Ericsson for many years, is:
“in many regions of the world broadband is equal to mobile broadband”

An own reflection about broadband in India is that the deployment and usage of mobile broadband may not be a stand-alone infrastructure and service like in Europe. It may be that mobile broadband is made available to a major part of the population as part of larger initiatives including healthcare, education and government services.

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