State Cabinet of Kerala has given nod for the ‘Fibre Optic Network Project’ (a plan for providing free Internet access to the poor) and clears the path for a Kerala wide optical fibre network by Dec 2020.
- The project, worth Rs. 1548 crore, is an ambitious project of the government. The network, to be set up by the Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd. and the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd.,
- The government embedded in this plan to touch every household in Kerala is a provision to deliver free Internet access to over two million BPL families.
- Internet service providers and cable television operators can also join the optic-fiber network project to provide their services.
- As many as 30,000 government offices and schools would be linked through the high-speed network, said the state government.
Internet as a basic human right:
- It is a recognition of the basic rights of internet access.
- No other Indian state has recognised Internet access in this manner till now.
- This is also in sync with what the UN has been articulating in recent years, based on the Internet’s role in enabling freedom of speech and reducing inequality.
Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), a study titled "India Internet 2019" found that-
- In terms of Internet users, India is now second only to China, but with only 36 per cent Internet penetration in India, there is still much headroom for growth.
- At the state level, the National Capital Region of Delhi registered the highest Internet penetration followed by Kerala, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
- The gender gap is higher in rural areas as the report showed that in urban areas, 62 per cent Internet users are male, but their proportion goes up to 72 per cent in rural areas.
- Of the 451 million monthly active users, 385 million are over 12 years of age and 66 million are in the age bracket of 5 to 11 years, who access Internet on the devices of family members.
- Internet and Mobile Association of India and Nielsen, a study ‘titled India Internet 2019’ also found that India has 451 million active Internet users.
- But this number masks huge access gaps. Internet penetration is significantly higher in urban areas than it is in rural areas; it is also significantly higher for men than it is for women.
- The best-performing State, Delhi-NCR, has an Internet penetration of 69%. The second-best is Kerala, with just 54%.
Inclusive Internet Index 2019
A Facebook report has mentioned that compromised by low usage and poor quality, India is ranked 47th out of 86 countries when it comes to inclusive Internet and connectivity for all.
- The index assesses the performance of 100 countries in four categories of inclusion: Accessibility, Affordability, Relevance, and Readiness.
- Availability: Quality and breadth of available infrastructure required for access and levels of Internet usage.
- Affordability: Cost of access relative to income and the level of competition in the Internet marketplace.
- Relevance: Existence and extent of local language content and relevant content.
- Readiness: Capacity to access the Internet, including skills, cultural acceptance, and supporting policy.
Key-Highlights of the Index:
- Sweden has topped the rankings followed by Singapore and the US.
- The UK, Namibia, Ireland, Austria, Chile, and South Africa are the top performers of the year in terms of gender equality. All these countries had female digital skills training plans.
- India’s Performance:
- The report found that India in the middle of Asian countries (12th out of 23) when it comes to connectivity.
- India is ranked 47th out of 86 countries when it comes to inclusive Internet and connectivity for all, compromised by low usage and poor quality.
- The report highlighted that India places at or near the top of the lower-middle-income bracket on most indicators, except for availability, where it is 13th out of 23.