Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh along with Telangana has 36.63 rural internet subscribers per 100 population.

Minister of State for Communications, Education, and Electronics & Information Technology, in a reply to a question in the parliament said telecom penetration in rural India stands at 29.83 internet subscribers per 100 population.

Despite the ambitious Digital India programme, around 70 per cent of rural India still lacks internet connectivity.

Andhra Pradesh along with Telangana (both the state comes under one telecom circle) has 36.63 rural internet subscribers per 100 population. While rural Delhi has 98.97 subscribers per 100 population followed by Himachal Pradesh (58.29) and Punjab (47.49).

Bihar with 21.69 subscribers per 100 population, Uttar Pradesh with 21.64 subscribers per 100 population, Jammu & Kashmir with 16.58 subscribers per 100 population, Madhya Pradesh with 23.88 subscribers per 100 population, and West Bengal with 25 subscribers per 100 population are the states with the lowest Internet penetration in rural areas.

The minister said that the government has launched BharatNet project which is being implemented in a phased manner to provide broadband/internet connectivity to all the Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country.

A total of 1,43,885 GPs is made Service Ready as on September 4. "Lower level of infrastructure, low population density and lack of viable business opportunity are few of the challenges which government is facing to implement broadband networks in rural areas," said Sanjay Dhotre.

According to 'The Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators report' of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), that India has 55.12 internet subscribers (urban+rural) per 100 population which stands at a total of 74.32 crores internet subscriber. Only 28.6 crore internet subscribers are based in rural India, while 45.72 crore internet subscribers are in urban areas.

According to the TRAI report, India’s internet subscription is growing at a rate of 3.40 percent. In India, the internet subscribers have reached 74.32 crores mark on March 31 from 71.8 crores as on December 31.

Due to the pandemic, the need for the internet has gone up. Work from home and online education have generated the need for digital accessibility.

Experts said the government has to ramp up the service in rural India otherwise the rural-urban divide on the parameter of the internet will remain the same.

Sumit Jha

Sumit Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with NewsMeter. An alumnus of the University of Hyderabad and Amity University. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also a contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, consumer, health, human interest and data stories. You can follow Sumit on Twitter @sumitjha__

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