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India targets 600M broadband users by 2020

Government has committed US$3.7 billion as part of efforts to drive broadband penetration in the country, from 20 million users currently to 600 million by 2020.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

The Indian government is "taking proactive steps" to increase the reach of broadband across the country from the current 20 million users to 600 million users by 2020.

According to a statement Tuesday by the Confederation of Indian Industry, R Chandrasekhar, secretary of the Department of IT and chairman of the Telecom Commission, said the government will invest 200 billion rupee (US$3.7 billion) over the next few years to strengthen the broadband network in the country.

Speaking at the CII-Media Entertainment Summit 2012, Chandrasekhar added the investment would boost and extend the country's digitization, cloud-based services and convergence to reach citizens in remote areas.

However, the minister said the government will play primarily the role of a facilitator, as it will be the cable and telecom service providers which will provide last-mile connectivity.

With increased connectivity, he said India's digital space will undergo "radical change", giving a boost to healthcare services, education and entertainment, while decreasing the cost of such services due to convergence.

Chandrasekhar, though, noted several challenges in India's digital space which need to be resolved as soon as possible. He pointed to regulation of carriage fees, protection of intellectual property rights, and piracy which continue to be grey areas.

The Indian government has been working to increase the country's connectivity. In July 2011, it proposed plans to expand its fiber network from the district level to the village level. In April that same year, the government and industry players pledged to drive the growth of mobile broadband services across the country.

India has some distance to go to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of broadband connections. According to a report by Akamai published in mid-October, India, along with Indonesia, had the lowest adoption rates for broadband Internet during the second quarter at 1.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, while 55 countries around the world had adoption levels greater than 10 percent.


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