When your smartphone gets the cyber-jolt
New Delhi: As many as 1.5 million people will be eligible for a cyber-security upgrade after the Indian government announced last week it will pay for some of its smartphone owners to upgrade to Android smartphones.
The decision came as part of a major overhaul of India’s telecom industry, with a move to offer free internet and mobile broadband to its 1.25 billion people expected to be launched later this year.
The announcement on Wednesday came after the Government of India (GoI) said it would spend up to Rs 1,000 crore ($1.25 million) to provide “cadastrophic” internet to 1.75 billion people across the country, including farmers, students, women and children.
It will be financed by the country’s central bank and a government-run investment fund.
The GoI said the initiative will also cover the cost of upgrading mobile devices.
The announcement by the GoI came as a response to criticism that the Government had not provided enough help to rural Indians.
“We will ensure that everyone in the country gets access to connectivity and connectivity will be delivered through the Government, not through private companies,” GoI Minister Manish Tewari said in a speech on Wednesday.
The move is part of the government’s plans to provide free internet to rural India by 2019.
The GoI has set aside $3 billion to help rural Indians upgrade their phones and pay for new smartphones.
India’s government has been pushing to bring in digital payments to its poorest rural residents in the hope that the economy will take off.
The government said last week that its government-owned mobile broadband network will soon be able to deliver “a truly digital India”.
The government has also said it will soon launch a programme to provide internet access to 500 million people in rural India.
The upgrade programme will include internet cafes and free internet access for all Indians, including rural people, to enable them to upgrade their mobile devices, a move that could benefit some 5 million people, according to the government.
The internet cafe will also provide free broadband to farmers, rural residents and businesses, the government said.
India is one of the top countries in the world in terms of internet penetration, and the country has the world’s second largest population.
The Internet in India is the fastest growing segment of the Indian economy, but the country does not have the infrastructure in place to handle the rapid growth of the internet traffic, experts said.
India has been facing increasing pressure from other countries for internet penetration and internet access in the past few years.
Earlier this year, India was ranked 136th on the world internet speed index, behind China, Brazil and Israel.