Two weeks into lockdown to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Indian villages are witnessing a surge in data consumption. Local news media reports a data consumption jump of nearly 100 percent in rural India after the lockdown was announced by the Central government.
The government-run internet access facilitator CSC SPV (Common Services Centers Special Purpose Vehicle) monitors and regulates the digital services in India. CCS SPV, over the years set up access points for the delivery of various digital services, also known as e-Governance services, in rural areas.
There is a surge in demand for the Fiber to the home services as well ever since more and more people have been forced to stay indoors. In the month of March 20, more than 300,000 subscribers registered across over 50,000 villages in India for fiber to the home services.
Rural data consumption surged to 4.7 TB as on March 30 from 2.7 TB on March 10, a near 100 percent increase.
CSC SPV has also set up Wi-Fi hotspots in around 25,000 villages named CSC Wi-Fi Choupal services. Wi-Fi Choupal has more than 1.2 million registered subscribers who use it as a supplement to their mobile internet connection, CSC data showed.
This is an indication of the high appetite for internet data in rural areas, which in the future can be pivotal in bridging the digital divide. If nurtured with regular organic feed of educational and informational content, rural India can be digitally empowered and transformed.
Including Mobile internet users, India has more than 600 million internet users, out of which 290 million are rural subscribers.
Indian Government has taken initiatives to provide high-speed broadband services to every rural household in India through a project called BharatNet. It has roped in the CSC SPV, an organization under the Ministry of Electronics and IT, to operate, manage and support BharatNet at the village level.
The initial plan of BharatNet was to enable 250,000 villages with fiber optic connection. Until now, more than 100,000 villages have been enabled to provide broadband services under the BharatNet project.
India’s broadband ambitions have not been met with its original plans mainly due to the implementation mistakes pointing to the failures of the country’s traditional bureaucratic setup. Central Governments over the period of the past 10 years have been trying to bring changes in the implementation methods but without much success.