Low rural broadband penetration, fixed broadband access offer scope for growth: Report
India's broadband proliferation has demonstrated an "impressive" growth over the past three years, yet low levels of penetration in rural areas at 29.1% and fixed broadband at just 7.5% of households show that significant opportunities for growth exist, according to a report.
Given the transformative impact of broadband across business, economy and society, it is "critical" for India to exploit and harness this growth opportunity, the Deloitte - CII report said.
Right of way issues, cost of infrastructure deployment, levels of digital literacy, access to affordable devices are some key challenges holding back the potential growth and mass adoption of broadband in India, it added.
The report titled 'Broadband for inclusive development: social, economic, and business' said India witnessed a significant rise in its broadband users with the number surpassing 687 million (that is, broadband penetration of over 51%) in March 2020.
"Broadband penetration has grown at an impressive CAGR of 35% in India over the past three years (2017-2020). However, existing levels of broadband penetration in rural areas (29.1% penetration) and fixed broadband penetration (7.5% of Indian households) across the country offer significant opportunities for growth," the report said.
Rural India's broadband subscribers per 100 population increased to 29.1 in March 2020 from 12 in March 2018.
Harnessing the full power of broadband is a multi-stage process that would involve availability of stable and high-speed broadband connectivity; accessibility to not only internet but affordable devices such as computers and mobiles; and usability (digital skills and applications/websites for users to rely on, that too, in the relevant vernacular languages).
While India has made significant development in broadband speeds over the years, "there is a large scope for growth in speeds" to enable further growth of technology platforms, social development programmes, businesses, and economic growth.
"As identified by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) significant improvements can be achieved in broadband speeds in the country. An important step is to pursue increasing the minimum broadband speed from 512 kbps to 2 mbps," it said.
Sathish Gopalaiah, Partner and Telecom Sector Leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India said the country has witnessed significant progress in broadband in the last three years, primarily on the back of smartphone growth and low data prices.
"In the next innings, broadband penetration in rural areas and mass adoption of fixed broadband hold the anchor to continue and accelerate this growth trajectory," Gopalaiah added.