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Indian IT Ministry Discusses Roadmap to Boost Internet Access

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently organised a workshop to create a roadmap to accelerate Internet access in currently unconnected parts of the country. The workshop, Connecting All Indians, invited public and private stakeholders, including India’s largest Internet service providers and officials from MeitY, the Department of Telecommunications, and the Ministry of Communications. The workshop provided a platform for all the participating stakeholders to put forward their solutions to expand Internet penetration to remote corners of the country.

According to a news report, the event was chaired by the Minister of State for IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who laid out the government’s objectives to connect all Indians with open, safe, and trusted Internet connectivity. He noted that it is Prime Minister’s vision through the Digital India initiative to empower all citizens with the Internet and simultaneously expand the digital economy and generate jobs.

The workshop also reviewed BharatNet, the world’s largest fibre-based rural broadband connectivity project. The workshop deliberated upon strategies to immediately cover left-out geographies, regions, and villages. BharatNet is a mission of national importance, aiming to establish a highly scalable network infrastructure that provides on-demand and affordable broadband connectivity for all households and on-demand capacity for all institutions, in partnership with state governments and the private sector.

Recently, the Sesawng Village in Mizoram, a state in North-East India, inaugurated BharatNet broadband connectivity. The initiative will be extended to 762 village councils in Mizoram. The equipment installed in about 241 village councils is either ready for commissioning or commissioned. Furthermore, the 10 megabits per second (Mbps) broadband connectivity is interlinked through satellite technology. A news report noted that with the installation of BharatNet Broadband Connectivity, villagers can now access the Internet through Wi-Fi. Residents can utilise the connectivity to avail various online services like ticket booking, e-commerce, e-learning, and other online public services. The 214 mobile towers were commissioned across the state under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Project (CTDP), which aims to extend mobile coverage to uncovered villages.

As per a recent survey, in 2020, India had over 749 million internet users across the country. This figure is projected to grow to over 1.5 billion users by 2040, indicating a significant market potential for Internet services. India was ranked as the second-largest online market worldwide in 2019, following China. The number of Internet users was estimated to increase in both urban as well as rural regions, indicating a dynamic growth in access to the Internet. In fact, due to high demand since the pandemic, the number of Internet subscribers in the state of Gujarat surged in 2020. A report stated that data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) showed that Internet subscribers in Gujarat stood at 48 million in December 2020, against 44 million a year earlier. The report said that because of the lockdown, digital adoption grew significantly across all professional spheres. As a consequence, more people opted for both broadband and mobile Internet connections. The need continued to grow as people began to work from home and education went online.

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