India does not rank high even among developing countries in its march towards achieving certain targets, which are anyway globally well beyond reach.
India and many other developing countries will be unable to meet global targets to push up Internet and broadband access, with newly released figures of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development ranking India 145th among nearly 200 countries in terms of the percentage of individuals using the Internet and 106th in the case of mobile broadband penetration.
The Commission set up by the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization had suggested for developing countries the target of bringing broadband access within the reach of least 40 per cent of households and achieving Internet user penetration of 50 per cent by 2015. The report titled 'The State of BroadBand 2013: Universalizing Broadband,' observes that these targets are "unlikely to be achieved' by the 2015 deadline. It was released at a meeting of the Commission in New York on September 21.
The two other targets for 2015 are having a national broadband plan or strategy and making entry-level broadband services 'affordable', which means that these should cost less than 5 per cent of the average monthly income of a household. The cost factor for broadband ranged from more than half of the average national income in 32 economies in 2010 to less than 2 per cent in 49 countries - mostly rich ones. Only in 35 out of 118 developing economies did broadband access cost less than 5 per cent of the average national income.
India already had a broadband plan in place and was one of 134 countries that had done so by mid-2013. Nearly a quarter of all countries (47 of them) were yet to have any such plan or strategy for broadband promotion in place, while 12 were about to do so.
The statistics contained in the report reveals that China was way ahead of India in improving Internet and broadband coverage and that even a smaller country like Sri Lanka had done better on some fronts.
Worldwide, Internet user penetration was set to reach 45 per cent by 2015, which was likely to fall short of the global target of 60 per cent. In the case of developing countries it would touch 37 per cent, well short of the target of 50 per cent.
While 78 per cent of all households in the developed world had Internet access, the figure was just 28 per cent for the developing world. "Of the 1.1 billion households still not connected to the Internet, 90 per cent are in the developing world," the report said.
All through, the report highlighted the point that mobile broadband promotion could spur economic growth "either directly by investment in infrastructure deployment, or through the use of the infrastructure to start new business activities, improve efficiency and productivity". However the quality of the service on offer was also important and it cited a study of OCED countries which indicated that doubling the broadband speed led to a GDP growth of 0.3 per cent on average.
The State of Broadband report also reveals that by the end of this year mobile broadband will outstrip conventional fixed broadband connections by three times. It was growing at 30 per cent annually.