The lack of Internet connectivity in the rural villages of India has alarmed the government – among others – but it finally does not take the situation sitting down. In January, the Indian government has promised to provide free Wi-Fi to 1,050 rural villages nationwide.
Over the next six months, Wi-Fi hotspots will be installed in the remote locations in the country. People in the remote villages can connect to the installed special tower through their cell phones.
All of this is a part of a bigger government initiative called Digital Village. It is driven to tap into the unconnected Indian population of more than 900 million.
Digital Village is a government project that has an initial phase cost of around $62 million. This is focused in rural areas and is set to expand in other parts of the country later on.
According to Aruna Sundararajan, an official at the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the general idea of the initiative is to provide basic development services to rural areas using digital technology. That includes interactive education, medical services, and Internet access.
There is already an executed and ongoing installation of fiber-optic internet cables across the country. This project just follows that plan.
Because of the massive potential customers, the government is not the only one after the unconnected people in India. Global tech companies and Indian internet providers are eyeing these customers as well, notably Google and Facebook.
India has surpassed the U.S. in 2016 as the country with the most Facebook users in the world. The social media giant is now looking for new ways to penetrate into the market after Indian tech activists and regulators confronted Facebook with internet access issues, especially violations in the principles of net neutrality.
Mark Zuckerberg visited India in 2015, and tells students in a town hall meeting, “There are a billion people in India who do not have access to the Internet yet and if you care about connecting everyone in the world, you can’t do that if there are so many people who don’t even have access to basic connectivity.”
Meanwhile, Google was already able to provide free WiFi services in over 100 railway station in India.
Source: CNN Money