Reaching the unreached

Although internet penetration has increased in India over the years, however, there still exist many areas in India which are unreached and untapped. The surge in internet and smartphone usage has fuelled most of the socio economic growth and development in urban areas, but many rural and remote areas are still unreached. The Digital India campaign has further increased the number of internet connections which has expanded dramatically. India today has 807 million Broadband connections (as per TRAI Monthly subscription data of July ‘22 & DoT Monthly Report for July’22 ). Approx. 500Mn are unique users as many in the urban areas have access to more than one broadband subscription /connection. Therefore in a country with a 1.35Billion population, almost two third of the country is yet to have access to an affordable broadband connection. Also ubiquitous broadband connectivity remains a challenge. Hence, India has a huge potential to provide affordable and ubiquitous broadband connectivity to a large section of the population. A number of alternate technologies (to Mobile Broadband Technologies viz. 4G & 5G ) are required to be used to bridge the gap. Technologies such as Public Wifi, Satellite Communications, Free Space Optics, Wireless Fiber( E& V bands ) can help fulfil that need. There is also a need to bridge the digital, gender, accessibility and language divides. The Internet must be inclusive for all, encouraging diversity, affordability, availability in local languages, and all websites and browsers should be universally accessible.

There is a need to deliberate further on how we can ensure equal Internet access to all citizens, even if they are in the most far flung areas of the country, how do we ensure that women, people from marginalised communities, people with disabilities can get connected to the Internet and avail all the citizen centric services available to them such as the DBT facilities, Agri loans to farmers, e-governance websites , access to specialised healthcare using telemedicine, educational scholarships, etc. Can the internet be made more affordable? Explore innovative ways to connect people in remote & geographically inaccessible areas ( islands, dense forests areas, hilly areas, border areas, pockets affected due to extremism, etc , ensure all websites and services are universally accessible in their own preferred language. Discuss how to promote inclusive and meaningful access to people so that they can avail the benefits of this techade

This sub-theme will explore discussions on important issues including (but not limited to)

  • Accessibility- Universal access, Meaningful access, Community access Initiatives including access to the marginalised sections of society, those at the bottom of the pyramid, people with disabilities 
  • Diversity
  • Inclusion 
  • Affordability
  • Connectivity
  • Bridging Divides- digital, gender, literacy, language
  • Capacity Building – Digital education, Skills
  • Multilingual Internet
  • Equal Opportunity & Equal Access 
  • Digital and Human Rights
  • Reliable Digital Infrastructure (including active & passive components , power, high quality internet backbone, reliable middle mile to everywhere in the country and  affordable & reliable last mile access everywhere )
  • Business models and technology models for financial sustainability of reaching the unreached