India’s leaders should in a joint effort boost their endeavours to move from the currently widely implemented 3G mobile communications standard to the 4G standard, advise Huawei, Strategy& and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Investing in 4G will allow India to stay on track to realising its digital goals, as well as enabling its corporates and entrepreneurs to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the more efficient connectivity landscape.
The rollout of 3G in India is generally considered by analysts as a broad success, allowing a large part of the population to enjoy the benefits of fast internet communication, without the need to invest in landline internet connections – not available for instance in rural areas. “Broadband networks have become a part of country’s socioeconomic growth. It has assisted in increasing departmental and governmental efficiency, improved people’s life & welfare, transformed business models,” says Rita Teaotia, Special Secretary to the Indian Department of Telecommunications.
However, Teaotia acknowledges that for India to continue its growth trajectory, it is key that the country stays on par with the latest developments in the online and mobile landscape. “There is a need to advance to next generation in attempt to keep up pace with ubiquitous connectivity for all the citizens.” Yet while India has been quick to adopt the 3G standard, leapfrogging lower bandwidth starting positions, the move into the 4G bandwidth has been held up by bureaucratic and environmental concerns, even while the government’s ‘Digital India Initiative’ calls for the rollout of high-speed broadband internet to all areas of society. As a result, India hasn’t been able to move forward with its goal of universal high-speed broadband connectivity, where a broad spectrum of Indian society is connected at 100 Mbps.
To support the country’s leaders with moving forward, Strategy&, Huawei and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have joined forces and released a white paper (‘Superfast India- Repeating the Leapfrog’) which explores the impact of a successful national telecom strategy on the country’s overall competitiveness. The research in addition evaluates the possibilities and benefits of next generation networks and dwells upon the business behind fourth generation mobile network technology.
To reach the goals of the ‘Digital India Initiative’, the authors put forward two key recommendations. Firstly, the government should fund and initiate a pan-India institutional programme to develop a state-of-the-art infrastructure. This will lead to better outcomes for citizen health, utilities, industrial competitiveness, knowledge economy and environment. In order for the roll-out to be successful, private sector parties need to be involved, and joint efforts should drive execution.
Secondly, the researchers stress the need for making telecom services more accessible to all segments of the Indian population, addressing the digital divide in rural as well as urban areas. By increasing the inflow of ‘new users’, significant groups of the population will actively be able to tap into the economic potential, with a virtuous impact on the country-wide economic benefits. In addition to the two key recommendations, several more concrete policy recommendations are made at a detailed level, along the domains of among others public policy, telecom, regulation, innovation and tax.