There has been no significant progress in the performance of government schemes meant for improving access to digital communications and the internet across rural areas of all states, finds the Internet Freedom Foundation in the third edition of its Digital Connectivity tracker, published on December 19, 2022. The report provides an overview from January 2020 to September 2022 tracking significant changes from October 2021. The data is obtained from the Telecom Regulatory Authority's Telecom Subscription Data and Performance Indicator Reports of the department. Key findings from the report Wireless telephone subscribers: IFF’s analysis shows that the number of wireless telephone subscribers decreased to 1145.45 million by the end of September 2022, from 1166.3 million in October 2021 and 1177.02 million in January 2020, with a marginal monthly growth rate of -0.27%. Broadband subscribers: According to the report, the total number of broadband subscribers increased to 836.86 million by the end of the second quarter of 2022 compared to 824.89 million in the first quarter of 2022. The IFF notes that this also translated to a rise in the overall internet penetration rate, which is defined as the number of internet subscribers per 100 population, which changed from 60% to 60.73%. Gender gap in access to mobile and internet: The IFF notes that while the “market conditions and Covid-induced lockdowns” between 2019 and 2020 meant more women obtained smartphones and used the internet, the proportion of women using mobile internet remained stagnant in the following period. The IFF report cites data…
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