Possibly the biggest infrastructure development for the rural sector is the penetration of what is rightly called by some the ‘invisible infrastructure’. Internet access to the last mile of rural India, will bring much needed transformation in the way people live their lives, conduct their businesses and receive services from the state. In the coming years, there are expected to be a multitude of trends and innovations, some of which are steadily gaining ground and will overcome the challenges faced by the Indian rural landscape.
OTT all the way
In the last two years, the OTT (Over the top) market has completely changed the day to day entertainment consumption pattern in India. The success of existing players is triggering many new entrants in the market – who will also want to tap the rural market. The shift isn’t something that hasn’t taken off as yet – OTT consumption in rural areas is on the rise. Reports suggest that near half the internet users by 2020 will be rural – something that is encouraging for this shift.
Profits will mean benefits to the end consumer
As the market in the rural areas is steadily expanding, innovative ways of monetising and ensuring revenues will be common. Digital Ad related revenues will see a surge as companies can foray into rural product launches, as more and more consumers are able to access internet on their smartphones. We have seen our express internet services - LMES IconnectWe service in Rajasthan - change in the way consumers use internet and how companies are looking at this market differently, now that access isn’t restricted anymore because of lack of connectivity.
Internet of ‘every’ thing
Connectivity brings with it smart-ness. With IoT networks already paving foundations for smart cities, rural landscapes are slowly following lead. Backed with ubiquitous net coverage and advanced technology, smart villages with water ATMs, telemedicine, smart street lights are not too far in the future. The real utilisation of internet will be driven by these next generation of services like healthtech, edutech, agritech, etc.
E commerce for the masses
With multiple players ensuring express Wi-Fi to rural areas, internet penetration for the rural masses could grow to as much as 35% by 2020. The rural e-commerce market will take off, and estimated to be likely a $10-12 billion opportunity in the next few years. Its acceptance will depend on the customization to vernacular features for better adoption. It is estimated that 85-90 % of the 300 million plus new internet users that will get added by 2021 will be local language users. Innovation and customization will hold the key for higher engagement and rural e-commerce to take off.
Simplicity to rule
Communications for the rural market will be ruled by one word – simple. More companies will ensure user-friendly and easy to understand features. With net connectivity penetration increasing, newer, easier apps , call features and interactive messages, the possibilities will be endless.
- 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