State of Internet in India: Part 2

Following up our article about State of Internet in India, today we will discuss the problems with the internet and the possible future. While last week, it seemed that the India is becoming an internet nation very quickly, actually it’s more than what meets the eye.

Internet Current Speed in India

India ranks 135th in terms of internet speed globally

Yes! Looking beyond the surface reveals that the picture is not that rosy. Netindex compiles a list of countries with respect to their internet speed by sourcing data from popular speed checking service- speedtest.net and pingtest.net. Data compiled September 27 to October 26 tells that the download speed in India is merely 3.76 Mbps. The upload speed is even lesser at 2.63 Mbps, which gives it a value index of 11.74 US Dollars. Comparing it to the highest speed of 65.34 Mbps by the first country in the list- Hong Kong, even disappointing term would not do justice for our country’s speed.

Current Speed of Internet in India

Problems

To describe the problem in one sentence, it can be simply said as- ‘Barriers to access’. They include the lax policies from regulatory authorities (read the Government) to costly devices for accessing internet to even costly internet services from ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

Interestingly, all of these things are interlinked and thus, even if one of them gets solved, the end user will not be getting any noticeable benefit. The biggest problem is that the Indian Government has not placed stringent laws for Internet, even in this age; the definition of broadband is paltry 256 kbps, which means the internet connections we’ve at our home has a mandate of providing internet speed of 256 kbps or above. To put things in context, many countries have made 100 Mbps broadband connection to homes necessary, and Google Fiber is experimenting with high-speed access of 1 Gbps in some of the cities in United States.

The problem not only lies in the internet speed, but the usage limit, as well. We can only dream of accessing unlimited data, as the companies have placed a new rule known as ‘Fair Usage Policy’. This means that the internet company is liable to provide high-speed until set download limit and once that is over the speed would be very low, in many cases down to 256 kbps. For example- After using 10 GB of data with high-speed access of 4 Mbps, you’ll get the speed of just 256/ 512 Kbps (depending upon the plan).

How things seems to be changing for the future?

Till now, we were blabbering about the problems, we as a nation are facing in Broadband Internet. However, what has skipped our sight is the rise of internet access through mobile phones (see the infographics). Yes, the small pocketable devices coupled with smart OS like Android and iOS has become a full-fledged computers. Most of the people, not only in urban India, but rural India are comfortable in using the internet from the comfort of their phones. And, here most of the problems, we discussed earlier are changed. The barrier to access is low as the cost of phones have come down as well as the access to internet plans from the telecom companies. Government is also participating proactively by bringing rules and regulations in place for the internet through mobiles. Though the speed of internet is still an issue, we hope it can change in the coming time. With the increasing penetration of 3G connectivity and 4G networks coming soon, this might become even better.

India's Mobile Internet Generation Infographic

However, mobiles are still not a permanent solution to the internet access. They can be a good option for quickly doing some tasks, but for serious things and even faster and reliable connectivity, broadband is the only answer. There are various proposals by the government and company for the bettering the last mile connectivity through Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) and unbundling of services for local loops. If such plans are implemented efficiently, we can certainly see an improvement in the broadband connectivity.

Conclusion

“We have come a long way but not half as far as we will go”

In the end, we would say that the Internet in our country is still in the development phase. For it to grow and reach more people, a combined effort from both government and companies will be needed along with awareness of the users.