Internet Connectivity Current Affairs
India was ranked 47th out of 86 countries in Inclusive Internet Index (III) 2018 report. India has slipped by 11 positions compared to 36th rank in 2017 III report due to low internet usage and poor quality.
The report was commissioned by Facebook in 2017 and is conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). It provides rigorous benchmark of national-level Internet inclusion across four categories: Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness. 2018 edition of report has covered 91% of the world’s population and expanded data set of 86 countries, up from 75 countries in 2017.
Key Highlights of 2018 III report
India was ranked 62nd in Availability, 39th in Affordability, 37th in Relevance and 23rd in Readiness categories. Singapore, Canada, Poland and Malaysia have topped in respective categories.
Internet connectivity: It has grown by 8.3% over past year and has shown 65.1% increase in low-income countries with largest year-on-year increases in Rwanda (490.8%), Nepal (138.1%) and Tanzania (87.8%).
Mobile Internet gap: It is shrinking between rich and poor. In low-income countries, average cost of 500 MB mobile broadband connection fell from 12.1% of monthly income in 2017 to 10.0% in 2018, a 17.3% cost reduction.
Gender gap in Internet inclusion: It is still far too pervasive. In 69 out of 86 countries, more men have access to internet than women. On average across indexed countries, men are 33.5% more likely to have Internet access than women. This gap is substantially more pronounced in lower-income countries.
Empowerment: Use of internet is empowering, especially to citizens in Asia, Middle East and Africa. Privacy and security concerns have limited the use of the Internet especially in Europe.
The Union Government has announced completion of first phase of BharatNet project after successfully laying optical fibre cables (OFC) in more than 1 lakh gram panchayats. As of December 2017, 2,54,895 km of OFC has were laid covering 1,09,926 GPs out of which 1,01,370 GPs have been made service ready.
The second phase of the project was initiated in November 2017 for connecting the remaining 1.5 lakh gram panchayats. Government is expecting to preempt second phase’s original target of March 2019 by concluding it ahead of schedule by December 2018.
BharatNet project forms backbone for Digital India initiative. It aims to bring high speed broadband to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) through optical fibre. The project was approved by Union Cabinet in 2011 as National Optical Fibre Netwok.
The objective flagship project is to provide affordable broadband services in rural and remote areas in partnership with states and the private sector. It being is implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL). It is world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme using Optical fibre.
Bharat Net seeks to connect all of India’s households, particularly rural areas, through demand, affordable high-speed broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps to realise the vision of Digital India. The project is being funded by Universal service Obligation Fund (USOF).
On completion, the project is expected to catalyse digital delivery of services for rural poor in crucial areas like health, education, livelihood, skills, e-agriculture and e-commerce. Moreover, it will generate massive employment opportunities, both direct and indirect in the country. The digital infrastructure