India’s first 5G rural trials have begun in Gujarat, giving locals access to high-speed internet for the first time. In its first phase, 500 villagers of Bardoli in Gujarat are using a private internet connection with a speed of 1 gigabyte per second – three times faster than what their average ADSL speeds can achieve. This trial is part of the country’s plan to bring 5G to the remotest areas by offering them better connectivity and quality service.
Traditionally, when we think about broadband adoption in India, we tend to focus on densely populated areas of cities like Mumbai and Delhi. However, recent data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) explains that there are over 1.1 billion people living in rural India. As a result, the Indian government has begun experimenting with radiowave frequencies closer to 3G connectivity levels and lower power requirements using new radio equipment designed to meet the country’s needs for faster wireless signals and less expensive devices.
The goal is to increase internet access and improve service quality across rural areas where millions currently rely on slow 2G services or spotty Wi-Fi networks in their homes. This is especially important as India’s economy grows and more people are using mobile phones more frequently to access the internet on the go.
The National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2017-2022 stated that “broadband penetration in rural areas is woefully low”. The government projects that by 2022, only 17% of Indian homes will still be without broadband. To reach these areas, TRAI has focused on providing government subsidies for technology companies to assist them in building out fiber optic networks and wireless internet services across rural regions of the country. The intent of these policies is to facilitate affordable low-cost high-speed internet access while supporting wider adoption of smartphones and other technologies that can provide users with greater access to online content.