Where does Wi-Fi fit in underdeveloped economies?
There is a lot of data and analysis on broadband access and speeds in underdeveloped countries. What sometimes gets lost in the clutter is how different technologies serve diverse constituencies. Perhaps an area most neglected, is electronic access at primary and secondary school levels. The recent COVID pandemic could perhaps act as the catalyst that is required to positively influence the digital divide that exists in digitally underserved economies. As telecommuting becomes more acceptable and perhaps profitable for high-tech companies, there is bound to be a shift away from tier 1 cities to tier 2 cities and even into rural communities. Broadband access would necessarily have to follow these labor movements followed by increased quality of primary and secondary education. The often talked about mobile broadband penetration will in no way solve this need. High speed broadband access providing Wi-Fi connectivity on par with tier 1 cities will be the bottleneck and opportunity in the next few years. Fiber backhaul, Wi-Fi hotspots and home broadband connectivity along with ultra-low cost tablets/laptops will champion the removal of the digital divide and the fate and market opportunity of the roughly 350M children 5-18 in India.