IoT Experiences Mixed Reactions in India — Enterprise IoT to Grow, but Home Automation Remains a Pipedream

Published on 22 Sep, 2016

IoT Technology Intelligence

Proposed smart cities will play significant role in boosting India’s plan to establish $15 billion IoT industry by 2020. However, lack of the enabling infrastructure and restriction of high-speed inter-networking to certain urban areas are IoT’s biggest bottlenecks in India. While enterprise IoT is finding its roots in the country, home automation is several decades away.

Internet of Things is indeed changing the world. One connected device at a time. In fact, a few months ago one of our colleagues Divya Iyer, in her blog, wondered Are Smart Homes Still a Thing of the Future?. She concluded that the connected homes market globally is growing and witnessing early signs of consolidation. Connected homes running on Internet of Things (IoT) is definitely an approach that seems to have caught everyone’s fancy for sure, as the markets in are beginning to mature. But, not really in India.

India is likely to have about 314 million mobile internet users by 2017. The 3G and 4G user base in the country is expected to increase impressively at CAGR of 61% over 2013-2017. In fact, India boasts of the second-largest Internet user base in the world. This indicates that the inter-connectivity infrastructure is improving and should become conducive to growth of IoT in the country. Here lies the irony.

Despite being the second-largest user base, India has the lowest Internet penetration (mere 19%) in Asia-Pacific. Reports suggest that only about 4.4% of rural population uses mobile Internet, that too largely 2G. This is a significantly low number for India as over 70% of its population resides in rural areas. Internet penetration is largely accounted to urban locations, with Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru topping the demands.

Incidentally, the Indian government has plans boost IoT among the urban locales. Reportedly, the government plans to establish a $15 billion IoT industry in India by 2020. The smart cities, proposed to be built by the government, are slated to give IoT its major push in India. These smart cities would have facilities such as smart power grids, smart parking and intelligent transport systems. Moreover, while home automation may be an extremely distant dream in India, industry automation is not. Pune-based Altizon Systems is helping enterprises build IoT products. It recently raised $4 million in a funding round led by Wipro.

Having said that, intermittent and unstable wireless Internet connectivity, vast and varied geographic expanse, inherent concerns over data security, and lack of enabling infrastructure may prove to be IoT’s severe bottlenecks in the country. Presence of inter-connectivity infrastructure in pockets, and lack of pervasive reach of data networking, majority of the country do not have the basic access to the Internet. Implementation of IoT depends on such a fabric to connect devices to back-end infrastructure or cloud systems to run data-intensive applications. Hence, IoT usage would be severely restricted to urban locations and its usage among the distant areas and rural population is several decades away. 

Hence, considering the constraints, it is quite clear that IoT adoption in India would majorly be for industrial and enterprise purposes in the near future. Pervasive IoT enablement and adoption of home automation on a large scale in India is a pipe dream. It may take several decades for this equation to change.