Sunday, December 1, 2013
Social media penetration in India through mobile phones
This course has motivated me to explore the possibility of using social media in my day-to-day engagement with the general public in my work environment in India after I get back. Thinking about using social media in Government in Indian conditions, one factor that worries me is the low access to internet, especially in rural areas. But deep penetration of mobile phones and designing of social media mobile apps hold good promise for India.
According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, India’s coverage of wireless density is about 900 million, which is quite an achievement, whereas internet access is available only to about 120 million. Mobile phone penetration can be leveraged to connect to a large number of citizens in rural areas. Mobile phones have the unique advantage of being able to reach areas where the infrastructure required for Internet or wired phone services is not a viable option. Smartphone costs are falling rapidly with economies of scale, while the proliferation of 3G/4G services in India is likely to reduce connectivity costs. New Internet users are likely to be mobile-only subscribers using internet-enabled devices. It would be necessary to make applications or services compatible for users with a basic mobile device, in order to target the rural population who may not be able to afford advanced smartphones. India would be a "mobile first" country where social media would reach out to millions through mobile phones rather than computers.
Social media applications using mobile phone technology can also explore the scope of e-democracy and e-participation by engaging citizens in democratic decision-making through various modes of communication between citizens and the government. The Government can consult the citizens and even seek votes on public policy issues, asking people to post "likes" on Facebook pages and "retweets" on Twitter.
The future holds a good promise, but it is required to facilitate an enabling environment and conditions today are better than ever.