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COVID-19 pandemic accelerated pace of broadband penetration in India: Deloitte-CII report

ANI | Updated: Nov 06, 2020 13:49 IST

New Delhi [India], November 6 (ANI): The lockdown period following COVID-19 pandemic accelerated India's rapid pace of broadband penetration and data consumption, stated a report by Deloitte-Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Friday.
The report titled "Broadband for inclusive development -- social, economic, and business" highlighted the current state, future growth levels and necessary interventions required by the government and telecom players to boost broadband adoption in the country.
Sathish Gopalaiah, Partner and Telecom Sector Leader Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP said, "This report briefly highlights the state of broadband in our country, how critical and transformative broadband can be for us, the key challenges holding back its growth potential, and certain key interventions that can be made through government policies, government spending, impetus to R&D and product development, and effective on-ground implementation of large initiatives."
As per the report, the July-September 2020 quarterly results of a leading telco indicated a 2.1 times growth in fixed broadband connections compared to the January-March 2020 quarter, and a 15 times increase compared to the same quarter last year.
According to it the need for fixed broadband was fuelled by digital services, such as e-commerce, online education, online entertainment and e-payments, seeing a significant jump during the lockdown phase.
"Significant increase in demand for fixed broadband is estimated to continue, as a result of the pandemic, with extension in work-from-home for most corporates and permanent changes in digital behavior of people in the new normal," the report stated.
It further stated that broadband has the potential to transform social, economic and business growth, it has and will continue to become an increasing part of citizens' day-to-day life, enabling commerce, education, health care, governance, and other social goods.
It also noted the positive impact of the service in the field of education, healthcare, governance, gross domestic product (GDP) growth and employment growth.
"The broadband penetration has positive correlation with GDP growth and employment. According to a World Bank report, a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration levels in developing countries is estimated to lead to 1.38 per cent GDP growth," it stated.
Further, internet connectivity can reduce the cost of learning, increase digital literacy, and also provide easy access to education, especially to those in rural areas, through open online courses and digital modes.
In the healthcare and governance sector, it can help in online consultations, diagnoses, maintaining patient data and faster, cheaper and transparent government program delivery with a wider reach.

"It will further boost employment by creating a direct and indirect impact of laying down infrastructure, enabling the growth of startup ecosystem and support technological advances in IoT (Internet of Things) and artificial intelligence (AI) to support Industry 4.0 transformation. It will also help micro, small and medium enterprises' (MSMEs) inclusion in the digital economy by facilitating market growth, quality improvement, and increasing Ease of Doing Business," the report added.
Broadband connectivity is also crucial to the success of many initatives, such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, National Digital Health Mission, PM eVidya, and PMG Disha, launched by the Centre to improve the state of social inclusion, infrastructure and affordability.
Further for businesses, it will enable lower capital outlay and operational costs, coupled with the transition to work from home model.
"Infrastructure virtualisation and work digitisation have the potential to provide overall savings of up to 15-25 per cent for businesses. Infrastructure virtualisation enables businesses to lower capital outlay and operational costs while improving operational
efficiency and flexibility as well as streamlining processes," the report stated.
"Work digitisation refers to the 'always connected' workplace in which employees are communicating and collaborating in unprecedented ways. By integrating technologies that employees use (e-mail, instant messaging, HR applications), the digital workplace breaks down communication barriers, positioning the business to transform the employee experience by fostering efficiency, innovation and growth," it further said.
High-speed, reliable broadband accelerates the adoption of advanced and exponential technologies. The cloud market in India, the report said, has almost doubled from USD 2.5 billion in 2018 to USD 4.5 billion in 2020 and is set to grow to approximately USD 7 billion by 2023.
According to the Deloitte Internet of Things study, IoT connected devices in the Indian market have grown from only 60 million in 2016 to an estimated 1.9 billion in 2020. This growth is expected to continue for both consumer and industrial IoT with multiple sectors adopting IoT.
IoT will have an impact on transport & logistics, agriculture, manufacturing, among other sectors.
It further said better broadband connectivity can unlock immense economic benefits by empowering workers with information, internet access can kick-start economic growth and improve productivity, create jobs and lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
Speaking about the challenges to broadband penetration it states that although it has grown at an impressive CAGR of 35 per cent in India over the past three years (2017-2020). However, existing levels of broadband penetration in rural areas (29.1 per cent penetration) and fixed broadband penetration (7.5 per cent of Indian households ) across the country offers significant opportunities for growth.
However, right of way issues, cost of infrastructure deployment, levels of digital literacy, access to affordable devices are some key challenges holding back the potential growth and mass adoption of broadband in India.
It said the government schemes such as implementation of the BharatNet program and National Broadband Mission will help in expanding the reach. It also emphasises on research and development to take place for broadband in India, and increase digitial literacy. Speed and access to devices are other important factors, along with continuous electricity supply, to ensure a stronger broadband ecosystem. (ANI)