Looking ahead: What will drive India’s digital user growth?
More rural broadband: Initiatives from the government’s Digital India program, like the Bharat Net rural broadband project, aim to provide connectivity to more than 650,000 villages, according to the National Post. Satellite broadband could also help decrease the rural-urban divide, and at least one joint venture, Jio Space Technology Limited, plans to offer satellite broadband to more parts of India, according to India Times. Companies like India’s Bharti Airtel and Elon Musk’s Starlink have also been looking to launch satellite broadband.
5G rollout: India’s telecommunications regulator expects to complete its allocation of 5G spectrum by August. Ericsson and Bharti Airtel are already conducting 5G trials in rural areas. Launching 5G could enable higher data speeds that boost mobile services and enhance security and privacy for applications like telehealth and financial technology.
Online learning and digital health: Demand for internet service with the spread of remote learning and telehealth, especially in rural areas, will fuel an increase in smartphone use, Deloitte predicted. The pandemic spurred growth in India’s telemedicine market, per a September 2020 report from EY and Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), and that sector is expected to keep expanding over the next few years. COVID-19 also led to a rise in online education. Technology leaders expected telemedicine (24%) and remote learning and online education (20%) to benefit the most from the 5G rollout, according to a 2021 IEEE report.