India outstripped by almost all her neighbors in South Asia in broadband penetration: UN report

24th September 2015
India outstripped by almost all her neighbors in South Asia in broadband penetration:  UN report
Less than meets the eye! India's broadband penetration numbers don't live up to the promise.

An IndiaTechOnline  special analysis
Geneva & Bangalore, September 24, 2015: The top ten countries for household Internet penetration are all located in Asia or the Middle East even as  more than half the world's population  remains unconnected  finds the 2015 edition of the State of Broadband report compiled  by the Broadband Commission  on behalf of the  United Nations.
We carry the  highlights alongside in our Image of the Day  spot , but an India-centred study of the report   that we  have carried out reveals  the huge gap between words and action  in this country, when it comes to empowering  1.2 billion Indians with Internet.
Even more revealingly most of India's neighbours in the South Asia region, who  face similar challenges  and have comparable  standards of living, have  outstripped  her in the  speed and spread of their broadband  penetration. Consider these numbers gleaned from the tables appended to the report.

Fixed  broadband subscriptions  per 100 population.( 2014 numbers) 
India ranks  # 131 out of 189 nations  with 1.2 broadband subscriptions per 100.  Only Pakistan ( 1.1) and Nepal ( 0.8)  fare worse.  Maldives heads this category in the region with  5.6; Bhutan has  3 times  India's subscribers at 3.3;  Sri Lanka has 2.6;  Bangla Desh is same as India -- 1.2.
Mobile Broadband subscriptions per 100 population ( 2014 number)
India ranks # 156  with 5.5 mobile broadband subscribers.   Only Pakistan (5.1 ) is worse off. All other neighbours  have outrun India:  Maldives 48.9;   Bhutan 28.2; Nepal  17.4; Sri Lanka 13; Bangla Desh 6.4.
Individual Internet users as a percentage of population
India  ranks # 136  with 18% of her population enjoying Internet access.  Even Pakistan fares better at 138%..  At the top are Maldives  with 49.3% which incidentally is the same as China; Bhutan  34.4%; Sri Lanka 25.8%; Nepal 15.4%.  Somewhat anomalously  Bangla Desh is rated as having just 9.6% of her population  Net connected.
Ironically, some these nations that have outperformed India in the region -- like  Bhutan, Nepal and Bangla Desh -- are categorised by the UN as  the  50 'least developed'  nations.  Yet their resolve to lift themselves from this club  by harnessing Internet  is evident. 
Meanwhile in India,  progress since the  2011 adoption of the National Telecom Policy and the subsequent National Fibre Optic Network Plan appears to be fitful and tardy, belying the huge investments claimed to have been made in telecom infrastructure.  Mobile subscriptions  have crossed 1 billion, 2 months ago -- which is a reflection of lay Indians'  aspiration to get connected. But affordable  Internet is very much in the government's giving -- and  judged on this parameter -- and going by the numbers  of the State of Broadband  report --    there are miles to go....