Centre for Internet & Society

We are pleased to be inviting applications for one full-time researcher to join CIS’ new project on studying telecom and internet infrastructure policy in India. The researcher would be expected to document the regulatory and technical affordances conducive or inhibiting the proliferation of small internet service operators and community networks in India. Due to restrictions on movement, this position would be a remote one until further notice. Please read the sections below for more details about the work involved, the timeline, and the application process for this call.

Description of the Work

The researcher will be primarily working on the following research questions:

  • What are the regulatory and technical affordances conducive or inhibiting the proliferation of small internet service operators and community networks in India?

  • What policy changes should India make to allow and encourage small operators and community networks to operate effectively?

  • What technical interventions can be made to map the levels of access, or help existing and new local operators and community networks in India?

The researcher may be required to assist in other projects at CIS as and when necessary.

 

Eligibility and Application Process

Mandatory qualifications: 

We are seeking applications from individuals who:

  • Are fluent in English (especially written);

  • Have an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, including, but not limited to, law, economics, computer science, sociology, and political science OR at least two years of experience in research/advocacy/on-ground work on issues around internet access in India.

Desirable qualifications: 

  • Previous research and writing experience in internet or telecom infrastructure in India. 

  • Fluency in at least one Indian regional language.

We encourage applications from individuals belonging to historically marginalised communities, including caste-oppressed communities, women, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with a disability/disabilities.

Please send the following documents to gurshabad [at] cis-india.org by March 5, 2021​​ to apply for the researcher position:

  • Brief CV with relevant academic and professional information

  • Two samples of academic/professional (published/unpublished) writing by the applicant

  • A brief statement of motivation in the body of the email (maximum 400 words) 

All applicants will be informed of the details of the next round(s) of decisions by mid-March.

 

Timeline of Work

 

The position will be structured as a full-time consultancy contract for one year (starting March/April), with the possibility of renewal depending on performance and project/organisational funding. 

 

Remuneration

Remuneration at CIS is competitive to industry standards. Researchers will have a base salary of INR 60000, with considerable flexibility depending on past experience and domain knowledge.

Description of the Project

Internet access is increasingly recognised as critical infrastructure, not just for communication, but the exercise of a range of rights. The pandemic has only highlighted the need for meaningful universal connectivity, i.e. among other things, internet access should be accessible and affordable across the world. Yet, we are far from achieving that goal, and the growth in internet access is even plateauing instead of growing at a steady rate. In India, the total number of internet subscribers is 749.07 million (around 55.41% of the population). The figure is even more stark for rural areas, where the number of internet subscribers is 33% of the population. Moreover, India’s broadband speeds are amongst the lowest in the world, calling into question the quality of access in the country.

These figures do not portend well for a country that has set an ambitious target of reaching universal broadband connectivity (at 50 Mbps to every citizen) by 2022. With the efficacy of state-led initiatives called into question, there is a need to evaluate regulations and policies that may be inhibiting the expansion of rural internet connectivity. Specifically, India may have failed to realise the potential of local and small network operators, which are key to providing last-mile connectivity. Accordingly, in this project, we will study the laws and policies for internet service providers in India, and propose regulatory and technical interventions that may help expand internet access to unconnected regions.

This project is funded by the Association of Progressive Communications (APC), and will be jointly led by Amber Sinha and Gurshabad Grover at CIS.