With mobile operators aggressively rolling 4G services, now there are at least 10 states, where the number of internet users in rural areas is higher than the internet users in urban areas.
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Rural connectivity has been a long standing issue in India. For the most part, despite being largely connected with the 4G network, a large portion of rural subscribers are still on 2G networks in Vodafone Idea and Airtel networks.
However according to the TRAI report, in ten states, the number of rural internet subscribers is higher than the urban subscribers.
Even as subscribers on broadband internet, ballooned to 885 million and Indian telcos enable 5G connectivity across the nation, in most states, urban subscribers of broadband internet, still outnumber the rural subscribers.
Experts believe, that this is not only an issue of poor connectivity in remote states. Smartphone affordability is also keeping rural subscribers tied to 2G networks.
“Over the last year, most smartphone brands have moved away from the lowest price band to mid tier and luxury brands where the profitability lies,” an expert told businessline, “which means that many subscribers do not have the handset capability to log into a 4G network.”
Telcos and the Centre continue to take various steps to bolster rural connectivity. For instance the Centre’s disbursement for rural connectivity through the USOF project increased significantly in the February budget to ₹15,700 crore, up by 50 per cent from last year’s estimates. Similarly, Reliance Jio launched their fourth edition of affordable 4G handsets to transition 2G mobile users to the 4G network last year.