At a time when the Government of India is pushing the Digital India initiative and expanding the broadband reach, the country’s position in United Nations’ broadband penetration ranking is not encouraging.
According to the State of Broadband 2015 report by the UN, India’s broadband penetration ranking has slipped to 155 from 113.
However, the number of people with broadband access on mobile phones has gone up to 5.5 per cent of the population compared with 3.2 per cent in 2013.
“Although global mobile cellular subscriptions will exceed 7 billion in 2015 (with nearly half of these subscriptions for mobile broadband), growth in mobile cellular subscriptions has slowed markedly,” the report says.
The total number of unique mobile subscribers is between 3.7-5 billion people (according to different sources). The report says that some observers are interpreting this as an indication that the digital divide may soon be bridged.
The digital divide is still persistent in terms of access to broadband internet, including the challenge of extending last-mile access to infrastructure to remote and rural communities.
According to International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) latest data, only 43% of the world’s population is now online with some form of regular access to the internet. This means that 57% or some 4.2 billion of the world’s people still do not have regular access to the internet.