The fact that technology is fast becoming an integral part and parcel of our daily lives is irrefutable. Everywhere we turn, we are surrounded by digital devices – smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers – in an increasingly digital-first world. This growing adoption of digital devices and enhanced Internet connectivity has today led India to be home to the second largest smartphone user base in the world. The country – with over 462 million Internet users – also has the second largest Internet user base, ahead of traditional tech heavyweights such as the US and Japan.
But despite these encouraging statistics, the vision of a completely Digital India is still some way off from reaching its fruition. According to the latest statistics, less than 40 percent of the country’s population currently has access to the Internet – that’s more than 864 million people, who are still devoid of the benefits that the Internet can bring. Moreover, a large majority of users that do have access to the Internet in India have to do with legacy infrastructure such as dial-up connections, which means that high-speed Internet is still a distant dream in many parts of the country. With such overwhelming odds confronting the Digital India initiative, there is an urgent need to analyse just how it can be made into a success.
Needless to say, technology and mobility-based connectivity solutions once again emerge as the solution to this problem. Given the rate at which the adoption of digital devices in the country has been growing, India is expected to have 702 million smartphone users by the end of 2020.
There are several tangible and intangible benefits of using smartphones and mobile devices to drive the Digital India campaign. Firstly, focusing on portable devices will definitely make it easier to roll-out different phases of the initiative, as smart devices are more easily accessible and can make digital connectivity more ubiquitous and seamless. This gives a major fillip to consumers, as they can use services on-the-go without being limited to a particular physical location.
Moreover, the process of connecting the entire country through high-speed, fixed-line broadband networks is both time-consuming and costly. It involves setting up infrastructure in several geographies from the scratch. On the other hand, most of the basic infrastructure for mobile-based Internet is already in place. With mobile network service providers constantly working to extend both their outreach as well as the speed of their wireless Internet connections, focusing on a mobile-based channel for pushing the cause of a Digital India could actually lead to a lot of savings, both in terms of the financial costs as well as the time taken to deploy a nation-wide nexus of high-speed Internet. Since most of the services, such as day-to-day commerce, have largely migrated onto a digital platform, this also will give the Indian economy a big boost and drive the country’s continued growth as it seeks to establish itself as a global economic superpower.