A report published by Analysis Mason this April on “How to get a billion Indians online by 2020” explores different potential business models to connect digitally un served and under served Indians. As for their forecast, unique Internet users in India by 2020 will be 746 million. The authors suggest connecting the additional 254 million digitally un-served and under-served Internet users are important for the users to benefit from the multiple government initiatives such as MGNREGA, AADHAR and Digital India. As the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) backhaul is been rolled out in India, authors explore seven business models to provide last mile access using NOFN infrastructure.
- Operators/ ISP initiatives
- Promotional 3G/ 4G packs to drive discovery/ Experimentation
- Minimal speed free universal data access (64 kbps; 10MB/ day)
- Central/ State government initiatives
- Community or Government institution Wi-Fi (NOFN)
- Subsidized data packs for low income group segment
- USOF based WiFi access through reverse auction using NOFN
- Corporates and tech companies driven initiatives
- CSR based free WiFi access
- Use of innovative technologies/ solutions for access
It explores the pros and cons of each of the above access models and compare them based on multiple parameters. The report identifies operator and government involvement is important to connect digitally un-served and under served population. The potential two access models identified for last mile connectivity by authors are promotional 3G/ 4G packs to drive discovery/ experimentation and USOF based WiFi access through reverse auction using NOFN.
With the support of the Ford foundation, LIRNEasia conducted a study on the non-uptake of NOFN by private players in India. This study explored potential models to provide last mile connectivity using NOFN. The findings of our study were similar to the models of this report. The respondents suggested that telecommunication service providers are the key to mass connectivity and WiFi can be used to provide concentrated connectivity. The study further revealed that increasing the digital literacy of Indians and developing support infrastructure such as uninterrupted electricity throughout the day is also important to get more Indians online.
During the discussion following the journal club LIRNEasia researchers agreed the best way to provide last mile connectivity using NOFN is USOF based WiFi access through reverse auction. By this model the service providers will have an incentive to provide infrastructure to the end users.
For the report, click here.
For the slide set of this journal club, click here.
Image source: LIRNEasia institutional survey in India