Internet – a word, which in an ideal world, should be ingrained in every aspect of our lives. It is a medium that has ensured the survival of a lot of individuals and companies during unprecedented events such as COVID-19. Yet, internet broadband penetration in India is currently at just 7% against 91% in China.
Let’s deep dive into some of the myths governing the internet space in the country and take a look at the ground reality & challenges that the masses at large are dealing with:
#Myth 1: The Internet in India is affordable for all, including the economically struggling section of the society
Reality – A nuclear family of 4 / 5 will require to spend a minimum of INR 1200 / month in order to access the internet seamlessly. For unskilled laborers, for example, whose minimum wage is barely INR 16000 / month, this cost becomes impossible to bear, in – turn hampering the future generation’s chance for formal education, access to entertainment, news, etc.
#Myth 2: 1 GB internet is sufficient for an individual’s day-to-day needs.
Reality – India’s data consumption may touch 25 GB/month per smartphone user by 2025, according to a report by Ericsson. For a household of 4 / 5, the requirement would be at least 4 GB per/day, more so for those who have children studying online. This becomes an extremely expensive model. In fact, consuming Netflix for only an hour can take up to 3 GB of internet. Hence, it is incredibly difficult for those sections of society who cannot afford Wi-Fi, to work from home successfully or even consume content without hindrance.
#Myth 3: There is no requirement for Wi-Fi when one has mobile internet.
Reality – Today, 80% of the world’s internet is consumed inside homes. This is even more important to understand in a country such as India, where the cellular coverage fluctuates. Currently, most people are working from home / taking online classes, and often high-speed Wi-Fi internet is the only way to function online hassle-free
#Myth 4: India and China have comparably equal access to seamless internet.
Reality – Home internet in China has a 92% penetration rate, whereas it is merely 7% in India. While mobile internet penetration rate would be different and China still leads the race, the need for Wi-Fi internet is imminent to bridge the digital divide in India
#Myth 5: Online education can be successfully conducted over mobile internet.
Reality – Just 5 hours of an online class will require at least 3 GB of internet. So, 5 hours of school, 1-hour entertainment, and 1 hour of online homework would definitely require much more than 3GB of the internet just for the kids!
My two cents on this is that the proliferation of internet connectivity by the means of public Wi-Fi is the solution to most of the internet-related challenges that the masses are facing currently. Hence, the PM-WANI initiative by the GOI will change the network connectivity scenario across the country, making the internet affordable & accessible for all.
The above article is authored by Satyam Darmora, Founder of i2e1.