Digital adoption is fast increasing in rural India with a spurt in smartphone usage, as the total active internet population is likely to touch 900 million by 2025 from 622 million last year — a 45 percent growth — a new report showed on Thursday.
While internet users grew by 4 percent in urban India — reaching 323 million users (67 percent of the urban population) in 2020, digital adoption continues to be propelled by rural India, clocking 13 percent growth to 299 million internet users (31 percent of rural population) over the past year, according to The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) Kantar ‘ICUBE 2020’ report.
Mobile remains the device of choice for accessing the internet in both urban and rural areas.
Given the affordability of mobile devices along with the availability of cheaper data plans, accessing the Internet through a mobile device has clearly become the first choice,
The report suggested that even though the internet penetration in urban is more than 2 times that of rural regions, the users in rural has been growing at a faster rate on a year-on-year basis.
“By 2025, there would be a greater number of internet users in rural India than in urban India. Given this, the digital ecosystem will need to evolve to address the specific needs of this emerging demography,” said Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, Executive Vice President, Insights Division, Kantar.
“Vernacular, voice and video will emerge as the game changers for the digital ecosystem over the next few years,” Bhattacharjee said in a statement.
Nine out of 10 active internet users access the internet every day and on average, they spend around 107 minutes (1.8 hours) actively on the internet daily, the findings showed.
Though the proportion of daily users is marginally higher in urban India compared to rural India, AIU (active internet user) in urban India is spending 17 percent more time than rural India.
Small towns account for almost two out of five active internet users, while the top 9 metros account to 33 percent of the active internet users in urban India.
The report suggests, of the 1,433 million population in India, 622 million individuals are AIU, and this translates to about 43 percent of the total population (across urban and rural India).
“However, with a sizable population not accessing the internet actively in rural India, there is huge headroom for growth in the next few years,” the report stated.
Interestingly, the proportion of male to female AIU remains almost the same in rural and urban India.
In urban India, the ratio between male to female Internet users is around 57:43 while in rural India, the ratio between male to female Internet users is 58:42.
IAMAI said that the ongoing growth of internet penetration in India provides a critical platform for all stakeholders to harness the digital revolution.