India 2020 – The Digital India Vision

Take a moment to look at and digest the stats in the infographic below:

Indian Mobile, Internet, and Broadband Statistics – the mega rise! Infographic by Amit Jadhav.

With the IT revolution behind it, India is now going through a digital revolution. The country’s robust and cheap telecom network has for years been one of its bragging facets. With the advent of mobile network and everytime-everywhere connectivity, India’s mobile phone base too kept growing gradually, until it exploded to its present mega saga. Broadband, high-speed mobile internet, and 3G put dial-up connections behind and the arrival of 4G has only made things brighter for the sector. Whereas sturdy Nokia and Motorola phones with limited memory and hideous display screens once put you back by a good 500 bucks, high-end smartphones by Indian manufacturers running on Android today are priced much lower than that. As the demand for broadband and high-speed internet connectivity will grow, the equipment business too will see a sharp drop in prices and easy availability, as a result of cut-throat competition.

Banking On Upcoming Potential

It is this entire metamorphosis that Ericsson is strongly backing on when it released its white paper titled India 2020: bringing the networked society to life. According to the paper, the Indian govt’s National Telecom Policy 2012 had established some objectives for extending broadband reach in India. The main aims are to:

  • boost broadband subscriber numbers to 175 million by 2017 and to 600 million by 2020
  • deliver a minimum download speed of 2Mbps, with speeds of 100Mbps or more available on demand
  • increase rural telecom penetration to 70 percent by 2017 and to 100 percent by 2020
  • make available an additional 300MHz of spectrum for International Mobile Telecommunication services by 2017 and another 200MHz by 2020.
 Heterogeneous networks with a mix of macro cell sites, small cells and Wi-Fi hotspots will be fundamental to manage coverage, capacity and quality of performance for users.

Hurdles Galore

The paper argues that for this target to be achieved, operators will need access to more spectrum from the govt, which will make services more affordable. “Spectrum will play a key role in driving mobile broadband growth in India in the long run, and will be an increasingly important driver of capacity, user experience, and quality”, Ericsson India Vice-President and Head of Strategy & Marketing Ajay Gupta said while releasing the paper. The paper also makes it clear that providers too will have to build newer capabilities and a sturdier business model to survive and flourish amongst the competition and challenges.

Internet – Basic Fundamental Right

Ericsson’s Vision 2020 document for India couldn’t have come at a better time. A recent India visit by Mark Zuckerberg too could be funneled down to one statement – The Internet is a basic fundamental right and everyone deserves to have it and use it. At a time when India has the third largest number of internet users in India, its broadband penetration is a pitifully lowly 0.2%. India, therefore, is a broadband market waiting to explode. There is a huge pent-up demand for broadband solutions and hurdles such as lack of infrastructure, network issues, red tapes, and unaffordability is holding back providers from supplying the rising demands.
Additionally, India’s smart phone market too has expanded manifold since Android made it easier to make full-featured smart phones at a shell of what would be the cost otherwise. Social Media Networks, Apps, and Chat & Messaging services hold immense fort amongst the average young Indian smart phone users. No wonder then Facebook invested a bomb in acquiring Whatsapp.

Can Deliver. Need Upgrades

Representative Image
If India is to deliver on the telecom objectives it has set for itself, Ericsson’s Vision 2020 documents seems to be a good roadmap and advisory. But more than following that, it is important basic issues such as red-tape, infrastructure level issues, low speeds, etc. need to be tackled first. In the end, the end-user needs to be happy, or at least satisfied, with the results and outcome. Only then is there a chance of tapping into this huge potential market called ‘Digital India’.


See Ericsson’s Infographic ‘India 2020‘. Read Ericsson’s ‘white paper’.
Signing off, Amit Jadhav,

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