With Covid and the subsequent lockdowns, the need for keeping the world connected and economic activities going resulted in a sharp rise in broadband usage. Work from home, learning from home for students, e-commerce and entertainment needs of people, amongst others were met largely by means of broadband.
The India landscape:
Broadband plays a crucial role in the development of a knowledge economy and its adoption is a key indicator of economic and social development. In this regard, 35% of annual growth rate of broadband subscribers in India reveal an encouraging sign. This is mainly due to the increased penetration of smart phones and low data prices, with 1 GB wireless data priced around USD 0.15 (as of March 2020), which is the cheapest the world.
A user in India consumes 11 GB data per month, as of March 2020, which is one of the highest in the world.
According to TRAI, 97% of users in India are that of wireless and only 3% consumers use fixed broadband. This presents a window of opportunity for the growth of the sector.
With inclusive development being a key factor in India’s growth story, reliable and high-speed broadband is an infrastructural necessity for creating a vibrant economy and seamless delivery of public goods and Government services.
Studies have revealed that India’s rural broadband subscribers have increased from 12% in March 2018 to 29.1% in March 2020.
Impact of broadband on the economy:
The economic impact of broadband is multifold, starting from infrastructure deployment and cascading down to several benefits at every stage. The economic impact starts at the very beginning of building networks that give rise to jobs, both directly and indirectly, which primarily results in organizations and customers getting connected. The usage of broadband by organizations increases efficiency which adds manifold to the GDP.
In addition to these advantages, households also receive benefits of consumer surplus. Other important advantages for consumers are better access to data, entertainment and public services.
Most importantly, expanding internet access leads to empowerment of people, helping in the creation of a knowledge economy. It facilitates information being shared without barriers and facilitates in the creation of a society in which skills and knowledge become pillars of growth.
Jobs creation due to broadband network construction:
Government initiatives under Digital India give a fillip to job creation:
Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications
A study conducted by Broadband India Forum revealed that IoT and AI apps are expected to generate more than 2.8 million jobs in rural India in the next 8-10 years.
Broadband facilitates employment opportunities in areas that are difficult to reach otherwise. Start ups are the green shoots for the economy and broadband could facilitate a thriving start up ecosystem across the country.
Report on Broadband for Inclusive development, social, economic and business
The CII – Deloitte report on Broadband for inclusive development of social, economic and business dimensions highlights the state of broadband in India, how critical and transformative broadband can be for us, the key challenges holding back its growth potential, and certain key interventions that can be made through government policies, government spending, impetus to R&D and product development, and effective on-ground implementation of large initiatives.
CII Report – Broadband for inclusive development, social, economic and business