200% rise in rural internet subscriptions in last 7 years: Economic Survey 2023
The survey stated that more internet subscribers were added in rural areas (95.76 million) in the last 3 years (2019-21) than in urban areas (92.81 million).
Increased push from the government to bring rural and urban digital connectivity to the same level has resulted in a 200% increase in rural internet subscriptions in the last seven years (2015 to 2021), according to the Economic Survey for 2022-23.
The survey stated that more internet subscribers were added in rural areas (95.76 million) in the last three years (2019-21) than in the urban areas (92.81 million) due to a dedicated digital drive across rural areas through government schemes.
“This significant growth in rural India was the major shock absorber during the COVID-19 pandemic when both businesses and consumer demand were impacted,” the survey noted, adding that it even facilitated the successful rollout of mass vaccination in rural areas.
The report also stated that the digital support system in government schools facilitated the much-needed enrolment to counter the learning gap.
“As schooling went online for a considerable period even post-pandemic, the increase in internet subscriptions in rural areas helped mitigate learning loss significantly,” it said.
The Digital India umbrella programme was launched in 2015 with the vision of developing digital infrastructure as a core utility for every citizen.
Government schemes such as the BharatNet Project Scheme, Telecom Development Plan, and Aspirational District Scheme and initiatives in the northeastern region through the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan have helped bridge the gap between rural and urban internet penetration.
According to the survey, the total telephone subscriber base in India stands at 117 crore (1.7 billion), as of November 2022, and the overall teledensity in the country is at 84.8%.
While more than 97% of the total subscribers are connected wirelessly (114.3 crore or 1.4 billion at the end of November 2022), 83.7 crore (837 million) have internet connections (as of June 2022).
In addition, a project for the saturation of 4G mobile services in uncovered villages across India has been approved, the survey stated. It said the project will provide 4G mobile services in 24,680 uncovered villages in remote and difficult areas, and 6,279 villages having only 2G/3G connectivity shall be upgraded to 4G.
The Economic Survey, a crucial document released by the Finance Ministry before the Union Budget, summarises economic developments of the previous year and sets the growth path for the upcoming year.
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti