So what does the specific Indian scenario look like in the grand scheme of things for IoT?
It is established that in a developing country, especially a services-led one like India, IoT is not a singular market, rather, it's impact is felt on numerous markets. This is what makes it a synonym for the future, since its presence is felt and seen everywhere.
India currently has over 2 million mobile app developers and this number is expected to increase to 3 million by 2017, making it the largest base of mobile app developers in the world. This causes a network effect as the users will gravitate towards where the apps will be, making it, the right audience for investment. As seen above, rural India has an attractive upcoming 'app economy' which is an important part in interacting with IoT via measuring data and controlling mechanisms.
For a developing country, there are a few challenges too such as the lack of internet connectivity present in most rural areas due to its expensive nature. It is seen as an example of the inefficient infrastructure existing in emerging countries.
According to a report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), wired broadband in rural areas is only 16.90% of the total number of wireline broadband subscribers in the country. It is a big inconvenience and quite time-consuming to build a nation-wide wired optical fibre/ADSL broadband network.
Fortunately, there exists a range of wireless technologies in terms of bandwidth, power and range. You have your Bluetooth and ZigBee which are short range or GSM (2G) and Weightless for wider coverage.
These devices are scalable too; no technically knowledgeable person like an engineer is required to implement these devices as they are easy to do so. These devices are notoriously cheap as well. Wireless and wired solutions must be utilised as a hybrid solution to offer a mix of options for IoT connectivity.
A challenge for India would be to generate financial investment into IoT from governments and businesses. A lot of businesses would be hesitant to invest due to hesitation about IoT's financial feasibility.
A great example of how IoT investment can be made indirectly and for low-cost is when telecommunication companies install cellular towers in rural areas since a lot of IoT data is sent via SMS. With increase in technology installation costs of cellular towers have decreased to as low as Rs. 1 lakh but operating expenses (OPEX) are still a concern.
Not only would a cellular tower/base station help in powering millions of sensors in all locations, but, this means that the high cost per unit usage goes down. IoT solutions can also help the cell tower reduce its OPEX. Different sensors can monitor fuel levels and reduce downtime with refills, optimise energy consumption, prevent fires and unauthorized break-ins to with temperature and motion sensors or alerting personnel during faults.
This way IoT also helps the structure that is powering it.
Obviously with financial feasibility, the opportunity for socio-economic development and enabling political legislation already in place, IoT looks like a great proposition, but, how can it be used in cases relevant and specific to rural India? There are a lot of application areas where IoT can significantly improve the situation. The sectors considered below are the ones which can have the most significant growth in the development sector from IoT as well as the best areas which can transform villages into smart villages.