In India, the digital divide is a significantly growing problem. The country has over 550 million internet users, which puts India at the second rank for the highest number of internet users globally. While the ranking sounds impressive, what it manages to hide is that more than half of India’s population does not have access to the Internet. To address this pressing issue, the Government of India announced its Digital India program which focuses on digital inclusion with an aim to transform India into a digitally empowered society.
Though this has been a welcoming step to reduce the digital divide, it also comes with its share of challenges. The most prominent challenge is that of the lack of an infrastructure that makes access to a stable and fast internet connection an expensive affair. In India, only a small section of the total household have a wireline broadband connection which adds to the growing digital divide. This is because the organized broadband sector has a limited reach while the unorganized players lack the infrastructure and the technical know-how. With these prevalent issues, digital inclusion seemed like a far-fetched dream when the Digital India program was launched.
Brands like Extreme offered systems and solutions to bridge the gap between telcos, big & small ISP as the existing players lacked knowledge and infrastructure. They helped strengthen the backbone of India’s broadband sector by configuration, troubleshooting, and advising on network design. It was only in mid of 2016 when Extreme started Internet Exchange Points across the country helping the Indian government’s Digital India initiative.
Extreme’s mission is to reduce broadband plan’s cost and fasten the internet speed. It expanded its Extreme IX to 18 data centres by 2020 and managed over 1000Gbps of traffic by October 2020. Being a future-ready concept, Extreme IX’s infrastructure was designed to help cater to the sudden increase in data consumption. Owing to this, the brand was prepared to handle the traffic surge due to increased consumption of data from the start of the pandemic. An interesting thing that was witnessed during the lockdown was that many new users from the non-connected population subscribed to wired Internet connections owing to the remote working set-up.
Digital inclusion is not only about setting up well-functioning infrastructure but also about making it accessible to everyone. This where Internet Exchange plays a big role by reducing costs by localising content and enabling local content exchange between ISPs. Moreover, providers earn more money as the benefits of Internet exchange allow ISPs to get more users, thereby driving up the traffic. IXPs help reduce the digital divide as they enable more individuals and companies to take part and grow India’s digital economy. Users of online services of Government organisations, academic institutions, banking & financial, and enterprise organizations can benefit by participating in Extreme – IX.
With players like Extreme IX spearheading digital infrastructure and services development, India is heading on the right track and making visible changes to bolster competencies. While we are moving towards reducing the digital divide that plagues this country and improves the overall economic well-being, major challenges pertaining to infrastructure and more equipped service providers still plagues the country.