India’s Internet is high on security, but could improve infrastructure and market readiness

14th August 2023
India’s Internet is high on security, but could improve infrastructure and market readiness
Internet resilience has multiple components. Graphic credit: Unsplash and Internet Society

By Anand Parthasarathy
August 14, 2023: Based on an  agency report a few days ago, many  in the  media headlined that India lagged behind its  neighbours in Internet resilience. A close study of the original source plus other monitors of the global Internet would however show that this a  cup-half empty approach.
 According to  the recent  finding of  the annual study by the  US based non profit Internet Society titled Pulse Internet Resilience Index (IRI), India’s IRI is 43% to Bhutan’s 58%, Bangladesh 51%, Maldives 54% percent and Sri Lanka 47 %.  The country is ahead of Pakistan.
The IRI draws upon more than 20 open data sources to calculate a snapshot of a country’s Internet resilience in terms of its:
-Infrastructure — The existence and availability of physical infrastructure that provides Internet connectivity.
-Performance — The ability of the network to provide end-users with seamless and reliable access to Internet services.
-Security — The ability of the network to resist intentional or unintentional disruptions through the adoption of security technologies and best practices.
-Market Readiness — The ability of the market to self-regulate and provide affordable prices to end-users by maintaining a diverse and competitive market.
According to the details for India, the country’s Internet scores high on security – 66 percent, with good routing hygiene,  domain name security and protection against attacks. Importantly it is one of the world’s largest networks 100%  compliant with the latest Ipv6 Internet protocol  -- something less than half the world’s networks  or 46% have achieved.
However where India needs to improve is on  infrastructure (score 31%) and market readiness (score35%.).
Affordability is rated very high (87%) with one of the world’s cheapest Internet plans.
In the survey there is no weightage  for size or speed of  the network – and  this does matter.  The Indian network is  larger than that of all the other four nations cited put together so obviously the  infrastructural challenge is   a bigger challenge.
The other  national ratings  in the Internet Society Index for comparison are USA 58%, UK 60%,  UAE 48%,  Germany 66%, Russia 57%,  Norway 66%  with a global average of 57%
Does speed matter?
Average  speed is also an important factor – it  must sustain  the  heavy use of the system for digital payments and other  services that touch the majority of  users.
The industry’s  popular Ookla speed test  maintains a log of global Net speeds – both on mobile devices and on fibre networks.  India ranks no. 55 among  180 countries  for  mobile speed of  42.75 MBPS and  no. 83 for a fixed internet speed of 53.18 MBPS. 
Interestingly  the speed on mobile phones in India which is how 800 million connections access the Internet ( according to the Telecom Authority of India) is faster than available in the UK ( 41.35 MBPS). That nation however offers a  faster fixed line speed of 81.12 MBPS.  It is therefore a case of national priorities:  citizens or business.   India has  put its money in empowering its  large population first   which may not be a bad thing after all.
 The pointers to  infrastructure and market readiness leaving room for improvement is something planners may need to address.

This report has appeared in Swarajya