‘Digital India’ campaign projected to bring 400 million new netizens online by 2018
India is a land of digital paradox, and its prime minister is pulling out all the stops to resolve its mysteries to further solidify the country’s technological foothold. Its engineers, IT whizzes, and scientists are among the most sought-after in the world, with more famous ones, such as Sundar Pichai of Google Inc., charting the helm of the online empires of our time. A population of 1.3 billion people, the second in the entire world, will certainly create a tremendous requirement for internet connectivity.
The recent Huawei Global Connectivity Index 2016 placed India in the 44th place among the top 50 nations in the world which have made significant progress in their ICT industries last year. Yet Tech Times notes that only 19 percent of that massive population has regular internet access, with 100 million jumping aboard the digital bandwagon for the first time only last year.
Fortunately, Prime Minister Narendra Mondi is evening up the score with his “Digital India” campaign designed to increase the literacy of internet use and digital media, with formidable allies in the private sector to support him. “Internet expansion for all Indians” seems to be the battle cry of Mondi’s campaign, with a target of 400 million enthusiastic first-time users to be brought into the fold by 2018.
That’s just the beginning. As reported by Arab News, Mondi has visited the headquarters of tech titans like Google and Facebook to share his vision of an India that will be wired from one end to the other. A more resilient fiber network that can boost internet speed can make broadband services happen for 600,000 villages. More Wi-Fi zones will be planted in transportation hubs like train stations and airports. Aside from the quality of its workforce, the Prime Minister is leveraging on the nation’s core strengths which have caught the attention of the world: namely, a growing talent pool that is currently 10-million-member strong; and its standing as the top IT sourcing destination in the world, composing the 67 percent majority share in the world market.
The Tech Times points out that the first breakthrough comes with the launch of free Wi-Fi access points in 100 train stations by the end of 2016. This initiative got needed momentum after the December 2015 visit of Google’s Chai, who had immigrated from India to the U.S. years ago. In this partnership with Google, Indian Railways, and the government-owned RaiTel, 1.5 million passengers will soon easily do online chat, surf, and post images while relaxing between trips in the following nine train stations: Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Ernakulam Jn, Kacheguda Pune, Raipur, Ranchi, Vijayawada, and Vishakhapatnam.
These passengers can also ensure that their internet connectivity remains strong and uninterrupted by using the network extender of 5BARz International Inc. The portable plug-and-play device, no bigger than a man’s hand, has become an indispensable tool to Indian cell device users because it strengthens weakening phone signals within its 4,000-square-meter radius. Without any encumbering accessory like an antenna, and with power consumption as small as that used to light a bulb, the network extender is a familiar sight in the bags and knapsacks of millions of fast-travelling professionals, tourists, and students.
5BARz India CEO Samartha Raghava Nagabhushanam throws in his support for the “Digital India” campaign, saying, “In our successful efforts to boost connectivity across the country, we have become aware of the great need among our people to take their rightful place in the digital age. They want to experience 24/7 internet access, high-quality images, non-stop flow of data, and the reduction of call drops, regarding these as integral to their growth as valued members of the workforce, the business community, and the greater society as a whole.”
After giving Indian netizens their digital space, “Digital India” is also looking at expanding that seamless connectivity beyond the country’s physical boundaries. Forbes India reports that the newly launched cable system Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) will link the country’s cable infrastructure with that of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The BBG is the result of another formidable partnership, between the 4G telecom-based player Reliant Jio and Reliant Industries Ltd. Should the venture be successful, the BBG’s cable system will then be expanded to reach out to more distant locations like Europe and Africa. The 4G technology should power up the connectivity level a few notches higher than the standard.
These recent developments which seem to happen one after another are winning the hearts and minds of Indians to join in their prime minister’s “Digital India” campaign. Perhaps, in the not so distant future, the second-largest population in the world will also be among the most digitally-savvy.