According to a recent survey conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and market research firm IMRB International, the number of Internet users in India is set to increase by 49% over the last year to reach 402 million in December.
With this, India will surpass the number of users in the US to have the second largest internet user database after China which has more than 600 million Internet users.
The survey also revealed that out of the total internet users in India in October 2015, 69% of the users were using the Internet on a daily basis which was an increase of 60% over last year. And this high frequency is not only limited to the youth of the country as 75% of the working women and many older men and non-working women also access the Internet daily.
The results of the survey especially pointed towards the increase in the internet users in rural India due to the advent of low-cost smartphones in the country. The number of rural internet users witnessed a 77% increase reaching 108 million in October 2015 and the number is expected to reach 117 million by December and 147 million by June 2016.
The number of mobile internet users in rural areas saw an even greater increase with a growth of about 99% to reach 80 million by October 2015 and is expected to reach 87 million by December, and 109 million by June 2016. The contribution of mobile internet users in rural areas, as main internet access point, also increased to 60% in 2015 from 38% in 2014.
Another interesting trend among the rural internet users was seen in the report as the number of people in rural India using Internet for online communication saw a drop while entertainment and social networking emerged as leading categories. According to the report, 36% of the user base in rural India now use social-networking sites for gaming, up from 21% in the last year whereas 80% users consume multimedia content, up 33% from last year.
The report also showed trends of Internet usage among men and women and said that men constituted 71% of the total user base while there were 29% women users. However, this number was different in urban India where the ratio of men and women internet users was 62:38. The growth rate for male internet users was 50% while it was 46% for female internet users.
The survey was carried out across 35 cities with more than one million population, including eight large metros and smaller cities, including Coimbatore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Ludhiana and Visakhapatnam. The eight metros constituted about 31 % of the total users with Mumbai having the largest number of monthly active users.
Small metros are also witnessing a high user growth rate of 60% and other cities, including Surat, have the highest Internet ownership in the country.