There is no contesting the importance of digital connectivity, especially in a fast-growing economy like ours. India has vehemently embraced the digital revolution, making it a bedrock of development in urban as well as rural ecosystems.
The government’s goals – universal broadband coverage, creating millions of jobs in digital communications, deployment of five million public Wi-Fi hotspots and 1 Gbps connectivity to all gram panchayats by 2020 through a national mission– is a testament to its commitment towards a fully digital India. Needless to say, this will increase the share of digital communications in India’s GDP.
We have already witnessed the tremendous evolution of the mobile networks in India. Mobile subscriptions have grown at an unprecedented rate, as have the data needs. It will, however, be unwise to think that the growing data needs of the country can only be tapped with wireless. That is where optical fibre comes into play -it really is the backbone to carry this large amounts of data throughout the country, all through to the last mile. Counties like the United States and China have a far and wide fibre network, in addition to a strong mobile network. UK government is aiming to achieve full-fibre broadband coverage by 2025. While India has 1.16 billion mobile subscribers, just 18.42 million are wired broadband subscribers.
There are multiple advantages of an optical fibre network connectivity. It has a higher data-carrying capacity and chances of degradation of signals are lesser over longer distances. They are less susceptible to electromagnet interference. It is also a cheaper solution if we compare it to copper connectivity; thus a perfect vehicle for long-distance, high- performance data network.
The expansion in wired broadband network has far-reaching implications, beyond a mere spike in data usage. High bandwidth connectivity of a fibre network will also allow other technologies, including AI to grow, not to mention the massive IOT adoption it will bring about in urban and rural areas. The fibre network will help connect to far-flung areas and bridge the rural-urban digital divide. This will promote entrepreneurship, innovation, inclusion and bringing about exponential growth in the areas which have been oblivious to it. From e-healthcare to digital education initiatives and of course an ease of penetration for financial services. There will be employment opportunities created in multiple sectors. Reaching the last mile through a fibre network will truly facilitate a small rural ecosystem.
We have witnessed the on-ground change digital connectivity brings, with LMES IConnect We’s Express Wi-Fi services in Rajasthan. From women- led development initiatives, public healthcare systems, financial governance to entertainment, OTT options and entrepreneurship – the transformation with connectivity and internet services is remarkable.
It remains essential that the government gives the right push for fibre deployment by empowering operators and ISP’s to extend the last mile connectivity. Further subsidies and incentives to ensure that all of India is digitally connected.
Written By: Mr. Rajesh Kaul
The author is Founder and Director, LMES IConnectWe – an organization committed to bridging the rural-urban divide by bringing a technology revolution via connectivity.