India Internet economy is growing at a fast pace and will be worth around $500 billion in the next four years, said Aruna Sundararajan, Chairman, Telecom Commission.
“Internet mobile applications have emerged as a key economic driver, and the country witnessed a 17 per cent growth in net traffic in 2015-16, registering an increase in India’s GDP by $103 billion,” Sundararajan told Business Line in an interview.
Almost $40 billion came from mobile applications, and it took the software industry 20 years to touch $150 billion. The internet economy has already received $103 billion, and it is expected to increase to around $500 billion by 2022 with 4G and 5G services, she added.
Currently, India boasts of one billion mobile users. Out of this 485 million are internet users and 316 million smartphone users. Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary expects the smartphone user numbers to go up around 650-700 million in next two years.
The growing usage of online services is estimated to save 30 per cent of the per capita income.
However, there are multiple issues. India might have increase in Internet growth and usage but its data speed remains still a problem. 4G speed in India is among the slowest in the world.
Speaking about the problem, Sundararajan said India need a huge quantity of fibre to resolve this issue. If data is growing at 500 per cent, and voice at 26 per cent, there is a need to increase the fibre density and tower density to provide better quality.
The telecom industry will be investing close to ₹4-5 lakh crore by 2022 for creating adequate infrastructure to cater to the demand, she added. She also talked briefly about the 5G, “India does not want to be a user and would like to be a contributor in terms of standards and technologies” she added.
DoT is in the process of framing new policies and getting positive inputs for the new generation. The draft of the Network Time Protocol (NTP) 2018 is in final stages and will be put in public soon
Recently, Jio and Airtel have already rolled out pilot projects. The global firms such as Ericson and Nokia have to come up to offer their services.
Earlier, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar IMRB in its report said that India is expected to reach 500 million Internet users by June this year. At the end of December 2017, there were 481 million Internet users in the country, which was 11.34 per cent more from December 2016.
In terms of speed, India is placed at 109th position in speed with 7.65 Mbps. According to data from Ooklas November Speedtest Global Index, Norway ranks first in the world for mobile internet with an average download speed of 62.66 Mbps.
India is still behind China and US in the smartphone market in the world. The average monthly spend on mobile services, voice and data combined, in India in 2016 stood at Rs 349 per person. India is now the largest provider of internet labour.
According to latest Online Labour Index, second most populated country on the planet is home to 24 per cent of the labour force online. Whereas developed countries like US and UK had 12 per cent and 6 per cent.
The recent disruptions in the telecom space have given a strong impetus to digital adoption in India. The Internet economy in India is becoming a major contributor to GDP, and is expected to grow to about 7.5 per cent of the country’s GDP by 2020.