In a sheer digital paradox, there are merely 42 internet subscribers among every 100 people in Gujarat, even though there is greater mobile penetration. According to data by Niti Aayog, there are 104 mobile connections among every 100 people in Gujarat. In fact, the state ranks eighth when it comes to the number of internet subscribers per 100 population, in India, the report further suggests. Gujarat trailed states such as Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.
Delhi, which tops the chart with the highest number of internet users per 100 population, is the only one to surpass the national target of internet penetration of 100. Some 126 people in Delhi are internet users per 100 population.
Gujarat is home to some 6.8 crore mobile users as on June 2019, according to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
Telecom industry players say the state needs better infrastructure in terms of handset penetration to improve internet and mobile data penetration.
“Mobile data can only be used when one has a handset that supports data connectivity. Handset is the basic infrastructure for data users along with appropriate data connection. We are encouraging non-users of data to try and experience the power of the internet. This will expand both usage and penetration. There are several people still using non-data accessible handsets. The ecosystem therefore has to expand,” said Abhijit Kishore, circle business head – Gujarat, Vodafone Idea Ltd.
Industry sources revealed that there is a huge section of population which does not use internet on phone and instead uses it for making or receiving phone calls. “Mobile users such as housewives in the rural areas and even senior citizens in both rural and urban areas use mobiles for phone calls and not for internet connectivity. In the sub Rs 1,000 price point, feature phones are fast selling in this target group, which could be a reason for low internet penetration,” said a well-placed source in a telecom company.―Times of India