Daily Hot Topic
Topic : Bridging the Rural Digital Divide
GS-3 Mains  : Economy


  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) approved a wireless network architecture designed by IIT Bombay for affordable rural broadband access.

Cellular Networks: Providing Mobile Connectivity

  • Cellular networks (like 5G) enable mobile device connectivity through a network of base stations and core network equipment.
  • Access Network (AN): Base stations provide wireless connectivity to devices within a limited area (coverage area).
  • Core Network (CN): Manages data transfer between cellular networks and other networks (like the internet). It operates centrally, away from base stations.
  • User data travels through both a base station and the CN to reach its destination (internet or another device).

Challenges to Rural Connectivity

  • Urban-Rural Digital Divide: Cellular network deployment and usage vary significantly between urban and rural areas (especially in developing countries like India).
    • Urban tele-density (127%) is much higher than rural tele-density (58%) in India (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India).
  • Lower Income: Rural populations often find mobile services unaffordable.
  • Population Distribution: Rural areas have lower population density, with clusters (villages) separated by large distances.

The IEEE 2061-2024 Standard

  • Developed by IIT Bombay to address rural connectivity challenges.
  • Defines a wireless network architecture for affordable broadband access in rural areas.
  • Similar to cellular networks, the IEEE-2061 network includes a CN and an AN.
    • However, the AN is heterogeneous, featuring a mix of base station types:
      • Macro-BS: Large coverage area base stations.
      • Small coverage area Wi-Fi hotspots.
    • This differs from homogeneous 5G networks where all base stations have a similar coverage area.
  • Seamless Connectivity: A key feature allows devices to switch between Wi-Fi and macro-BS connectivity without service disruption.
  • Significance in a Heterogeneous Network Landscape:
    • Future wireless systems will include a mix of legacy and new technologies (4G, 5G, 6G, Wi-Fi).
    • The integrated AN control functionality in IEEE-2061 helps avoid service disruptions like call drops in such networks.

The Middle-Mile Network

  • The IEEE-2061 standard proposes a multi-hop wireless middle-mile network to extend connectivity in areas lacking optical fiber links.
  • Multi-hop Wireless Middle-Mile: Provides cost-effective long-distance connectivity, eliminating the need for expensive and complex optical fiber deployment.
  • The IEEE-2061 network can utilize various technologies like satellites or long-range Wi-Fi for the middle mile.


  • IEEE-2061-2024 is the second successful IEEE standard developed by IIT Bombay.
  • If adopted, this standard has the potential to provide affordable internet connectivity to rural populations.
  • The novel concepts of CN bypass and integrated AN control may pave the way for future flexible and scalable mobile networks.


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