At a time when India has surpassed the United States as the second largest market for internet users, Comm. and IT Minister, Ravi Shankar stated that “5,41,939 villages out of total 5,97,608 villages in the country are already covered with mobile services
Speaking of the statistics in the Lok Sabha, Communication and Information Technology Minister, Ravi Shankar stated that “5,41,939 villages out of total 5,97,608 villages in the country are already covered with mobile services, leaving only 55,669 villages ie. 9.31 per cent without coverage,”
The urban areas still hold a dominant position when it comes to mobile connectivity with 152.36 per cent. The number of mobile connections in the rural areas stands at just 48.79 per cent as of September. The urban areas, like in many other sectors, have been the first to receive the latest exploits of the telecom industry.
When 4G connections are on the offer in the urban areas, rural areas still have to contend with 2G connections. The minister however assured that the growth of mobile connectivity is one of the top agendas for the government.
He added that
The increase in rural tele-density has gathered momentum in recent times but the wide gap between rural and urban tele-density can be explained by the difference in purchasing power of rural and urban consumers.
The Government, through the National Telecom Policy has set itself a target of increasing mobile connectivity in the rural areas by up to 70 per cent by 2017. By the end of this decade, it hopes to connect 100 per cent of the country’s population, which is a monumental task in itself.
In order to turn this into reality, the government has already begun preparing a ground plan to work upon. Prasad said that “2,199 mobile towers are being set up in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states with a total estimated cost of Rs 3,567.58 crore.” As of November 30, 2015 about 1,134 mobile towers are radiating, he added.
If the government’s Digital India initiative is to materialise, rural areas have to get the same telecomm connectivity enjoyed by the populace in the urban localities.
In India, over 400 million people use the internet, making it the second largest market, next only to China. Most of the internet users in India, rely on their mobile phones to access the web. According to a report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and market research IMRB, out of the 400 million, almost 87 percent (276 million) users accessed internet through a mobile device in India.