Internet subscriber base in India touched 22.86 million at the end of March 2012, way below the 40 million target set for 2010, due to various factors, including lack of interest among service providers to extend service to rural areas, minister for communications and IT Kapil Sibal informed the Rajya Sabha today.
The number of internet subscribers as reported by internet service providers (ISPs) stood at 22.86 million at the end of the 2011-12 financial year, against 19.67 million at the end of 2010-11 and 16.18 million at the end of the 2009-10 fiscal, the minister informed the House in a written reply.
The government had set a target of achieving 6 million, 18 million and 40 million internet users for the years 2005, 2007 and 2010 respectively, under the Broadband Policy 2004, according to the minister.
The number of wireline internet users stood at 6.7 million (2005), 10.36 million (2007) and 18.69 million (2010) against the target of The target for broadband users had been set at 3 million, 9 million and 20 million for 2005, 2007 and 2010, respectively. Against this, the actual numbers stood at 0.90 million (2005), 3.13 million (2007) and 10.99 million (2010), the minister pointed out.
An Internet connection with a speed of 256 kbps and above is categorised as broadband as per the government's policy.
Sibal said the main hindrance to growth of internet and broadband in the country is "lack of interest in private operators, for broadband expansion in rural areas, being non-remunerative".
Another obstacle is the difficulty in laying optical fibre cable (OFC) network due to the issues related to right of way clearances and the high cost involved, he said.
Sibal said low PC penetration, high cost of customer premises equipment, low literacy levels, lack of local content and poor power supply also adversely affect internet penetration in the country