Here’s a good news for all the Indian citizens! All of us know that India is paving its way towards becoming a digitalized country and is leaving no stones unturned in achieving its goal. It covered one more milestone on July 4, 2018, when a joint report was published by Google and global research firm Analysis Mason stated that Public Wi-Fi in India to add 40 million new users by 2019. The Analysis Mason report emphasized how public WiFi in India could play a significant role in driving ubiquitous connectivity and digital inclusion in India.
Impact of Public WiFi On India’ GDP
The report also estimates that by 2019 approximately 100 million people in India would spend an estimated amount of $2 to $3 billion on handsets and cellular mobile broadband services per year, which could drastically boost India’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Detailing this further, the report depicts that the action would directly convert into solid benefits to GDP, which could escalate by around $20 billion between 2017-19 and at least $10 billion per year later on.
The number of people connected digitally is expanding at a fast rate, and we had a total of 200 million connections by the end of 2016, and 316 million connections till the end of 2017. However, these soaring numbers seem to be unproductive as our country still lies far behind in the field of mobile broadband penetration. The mobile broadband penetration in India was a meagre 31% at the end of 2017, still considerably behind many of India’s peers. If we talk in numbers, India currently has about 36,000 commercial hotspots, far behind than China (6.1 million), Indonesia and Mexico (having over 1.65 lakh each).
The report was prepared through the lens of Google and Railtel Public WiFi project. It supports the Government’s ambition under the draft NDCP to reach 5 million access points in 2020 and 10 million in 2022. Moreover, it aims to provide a wide-ranging coverage and expeditious internet connectivity for 600 million Indians.
All in all, these changes would directly boost the WiFi ecosystem in India, and indirectly help in promoting a broader connectivity ecosystem. Not only this, it would also aid the government by shooting up the GDP and productivity.
Google and RailWire’s project to install high-speed WiFi across 400 stations has not only proved that there existed a technical and operational solution to providing high-quality public Wi-Fi to millions of Indians all over the country, but also shown that such transformations can be serviced at affordable terms. For those who are aloof, this high-speed Wi-Fi network has an uncapped bandwidth of 1 GB/s at each station. It is offered for free under the brand name “RailWire”. Here, the users have 30 minutes of free access to the Internet, where they can consume 350 MB of data per session, on an average.
This project was a huge success, and when combined with Reliance Jio’s 80,000 public WiFi access points, they proved that developing public WiFi service could help India actually achieve its dream of Digital India Vision.
The report further discussed Railtel, which aims at inflating digital connectivity through multiple technologies. Its main projects include National knowledge Network, Connectivity in Far-Flung North East, BharatNet, Railwire Home Broadband, Railway Digital Network and the Google and Railwire’s project we discussed above.
If we talk statistically, the public Wi-Fi in India has almost 8 million monthly active users currently. Two-thirds of them belong to a young age group. Moreover, where 50% of users access the Internet many times a day, around 36% of the users on the network are accessing it for the first time.
If you are curious to know whether Google knows what you’re watching – Yes it does. It revealed in the report that most of the WiFi users indulged in online videos streaming content and watching IPL, social networking, finance. A very important point that emerged from the data was that even with a lot of users getting connected simultaneously, the experience was seamless and fast, with no buffering.
Although we have a long journey ahead of us, crossing each milestone makes our aim appear to be nearer. The reports say that this is just the beginning, and India will surely compete with its peers and stand shoulder to shoulder with them one day, and seeing the exponential growth, the day is not far enough!