There is doubt as to how successful Elon Musk’s effort to bring the Internet to rural areas of India will be. The reason is its hefty price tag. Will such an expensive service be able to run in villages! Now the latest initiative by Starlink, the satellite internet division of Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX, and the Indian Space Association (ISPA) launched by the Indian government last month have raised hopes of a better picture. The problem is that turning both of these propositions into reality still seems far-fetched. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, there were more than 622 million internet users in India in the year 2020. This figure is expected to increase to 90 crore by 2025. Elon Musk’s eyes are on this market. Gap between urban and rural areas In terms of internet access, the gap between urban and rural areas is clearly visible. Internet is accessible to 67 percent of the country’s urban population, while in rural India this figure is only 31 percent. The main reason behind this is the lack of access to the Internet and being away from the ability of the common people.
Reliance Jio may have created internet revolution in urban areas, its reach is less in rural areas, the cost is also heavy on the pockets of common people. According to the latest report of the National Sample Survey, only 4.4 percent of rural households in the country have computers. In urban areas, this figure rises to 14.9 percent. Only 14.9 percent of the households in rural areas get internet access, but in urban areas this number is 42 percent or almost three times more. Another example clears the gap between urban and rural areas. In urban areas, where there are 104 internet connections per hundred people, in rural areas this figure is only 27. In urban areas, due to the presence of two SIM cards in many mobile phones, the figure increases. Preparation of Satellite Internet In order to bridge this gap in the rural areas of the country, now an initiative is being taken to provide satellite internet. However, its speed will be less compared to optical fiber cable.
But it is better to have something than to be nothing. Backward or rural areas can be connected to this modern technology with satellite internet. Internet will reach especially in such areas or people where it is only a dream at the moment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Indian Space Association (Indian Space Association ie ISPA) last month. On this occasion, he said, “In-Space will help promote private companies in the space sector. To facilitate private sector participation, the government has formed the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization (In-Space).” It will act as a single window agency for all space-related programmes.” See Indian Schools Presently Larsen & Toubro, Nelco (Tata Group), OneWeb, Bharti Airtel, MapmyIndia, Walchandnagar Industries and Anant Technology Limited, Godrej Other companies including BEL are included in the Indian Space Association. On this occasion, the Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnav said, “The fusion of space technology and telecommunications will increase the reach of digital services to remote areas of the country and help in inclusive growth. The government will improve the sector and ensure healthy competition.” Elon Musk’s initiative On the other hand, American industrialist Elon Musk’s company is also working towards providing satellite internet in rural areas of the country. Starlink, the satellite internet division of his company SpaceX, aims to install two lakh Starlink devices in India by December next year. Of these, 80 percent will be in rural districts. The company started development of its satellite network in the year 2015.
In the year 2018, it launched the first prototype satellite. At present, there are more than 1700 Starlink satellites deployed in space. The company will provide access to the Internet, especially in rural areas, with their help. For its internet connection, a small satellite dish will have to be installed at home, which will get the signal. By the way, keeping in mind the rural economy, questions are also being raised on this. Starlink has said that it has received 5000 pre-orders in India. The company has also started taking pre-orders from consumers wishing to join the ‘Better Than Nothing’ beta program. But the company’s internet service costs $99 per month or about Rs 7,350. Apart from this, there will be a one-time payment of 500 US dollars for taxes, fees, satellite dish and router. In such a situation, the biggest question is that how many people in rural areas will be able to take advantage of this service? Ravikant Jana, a telecom expert in Kolkata, says, “If the government does not subsidize it in rural areas, then it is neither possible nor practical for the common people to spend this much on the Internet. So at the moment this initiative does not give much hope.” .