The Indian telecommunications sector has witnessed high subscriber growth and a rapidly evolving demand for new and advanced technology, but it has been stressed by low margins, limited spectrum availability, stringent taxes, and shrinking profitability, analysts at Brookings argue.

India is not unique in that regard. High telecommunications and spectrum costs represent substantial barriers in many parts of the developing world, Brookings argues.

High costs get passed along to consumers, and high prices keep consumers from being able to access the Internet and use digital services.

To promote innovation and quality of services to consumers, the government will have to rationalize its taxes and levies, and make them more competitive to global standards, Brookings argues.  

Additional spectrum is required, at reasonable cost. In India as elsewhere, that is crucial since mobile networks clearly are the way most consumers will be getting access to the Internet.

In India, fixed networks support about six percent of Indian Internet access connections, while mobile supports about 93.5 percent of such connections. Since growth rates for mobile Internet are vastly higher than for fixed networks, it is self evident that mobile is the primary platform for Internet access in India.

There were in October 2015 some 375 million Internet users in India, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, there were in March 2015 about 15.5 million broadband fixed line Internet access accounts and some 3.6 million narrowband accounts, for a total fixed network Internet access base of about 18.9 million.

In March 2015 there were about 83.2 million mobile broadband customers (3G, mostly) and some 199.6 million narrowband mobile consumers (2G), representing some 282.8 million mobile Internet customers.

So fixed Internet access represents about two percent of the narrowband Internet access accounts. Mobile represents 98 percent of narrowband Internet access accounts.

Fixed broadband accounts represent about 16 percent of total Indian broadband Internet accounts. Mobile represents about 84 percent of broadband Internet access accounts.