Articles

Why #DigitalIndia isn’t critically solving India’s Internet crisis!

It’s great to see that the Government of India has taken up the Digital India initiative. However, no political party or media organization is addressing the fact that Internet is basically unaffordable in India – a staggering 85% of the population is offline!

A few (15 minute) free WiFi zones and e-governance apps may be a part of the solution but it involves no critical problem solving approach to bring the rest of India online.

Free WiFi Zones in India. Image Source: Muft Internet Research Team
Free WiFi Zones in India. Image Source: Muft Internet Research Team

Many argue that lot of Indians are uneducated and they don’t need Internet! Agreed, but they do need Internet services like tele-medicine.

The effects of the telecom scams (#2gscam) are still being seen today. For years, the Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (#TRAI) and the Department of Telcom (#DoT) has sided with telcos in India instead of its own citizens. It’s hard to understand the democratic process behind TRAI.

Lack of clear policies by TRAI makes Internet access unaffordable for majority of Indians leaving millions offline! Companies like Vodafone India, Idea, Tata Docomo, Airtel India and Reliance Communications face little to no consequences even when they:

1. Overprice their data. (We pay more than Europeans for Internet service!)
2. Make false marketing claims. (The actual speed never matches up!)
3. Create Abnormal ‘Fair Usage Policies’ where they get to decide what’s fair for you to use!
4. Destroy #NetNeutrality by charging different fees for different pieces of data!

New age start-ups and online companies (like Flipkart, Myntra, ShopClues, Freshdesk, Amazon India,Jabong, Snapdeal, eBay India, Olacabs, Housing.com, Zomato, CommonFloor, Hungama.com, Bigbasket.com and so on) find it extremely hard to expand their businesses because of this very issue – LACK OF QUALITY INTERNET ACCESS AT AFFORDABLE PRICES FOR INDIAN CITIZENS.

This is the single largest barrier to growth in Education, eHealth, eGovernance and eCommerce in India!

In the past we have seen that many Indian online businesses have voiced their concern to Save the Internet – net neutrality in India. However it is surprising to see that no one speaks of ‘affordability’ or ‘quality’ of Internet service in India.

It’s safe to say that the mainstream media like will never speak against the telcos. The telcos also happen to be their clients in advertising.

But, it’s up to the ones who are online in India that need to speak up against:
1. The bad practices of #telcos in India
2. The lack of a democratic framework of #TRAI.

We live in an age where ‘commodities’ don’t drive economies but ‘information’ does. With expensive and low quality Internet access in India; western countries have a greater advantage towards technology-superiority.

Expensive and low quality Internet access is the single largest invisible socio-economical problem that no one talks about!!!

In my text post I shall talk about the various initiatives around the world being taken up by various governments to bridge the digital divide.

With this post, we encourage people to write/talk/discuss the #DigitalDivide in India and how unaffordable and low quality Internet access is affecting our country.