Rural India has a 20% higher presence of Internet users than urban parts of the country, according to a recent study by data and market measurement firm Nielsen. Overall, India has 646 million active Internet users aged two years and above as of December 2021.
The study titled Bharat 2.0 Internet Study, also revealed that almost 60% of the rural population is still not actively using the internet, paving headroom for further growth. Urban India on the other hand has registered a 59% penetration growth with 294 million active internet users.
The study was based on surveys carried out across states from September 2021 to December 2021 covering 110,000 household members across 27,900 households.
Further, the number of active Internet users aged 12 years and above stands at 592 million. Compared with 2019, active internet user base for 12 years and above has shown growth of 37%. Rural users’ growth at 45% continues to outshine urban users’ growth at 28% over 2019. In the past two years, female Internet users have grown 61% as compared to male users who grew at 24%. One in every three India is actively using the internet, Nielsen said.
Almost 90% access the internet on a daily basis. Users aged 50 and above users too are active, with 81% accessing it daily. Mobile phones have remained the key device for all internet usage across sectors.
“Availability of budget smartphones and affordable mobile data along with the Indian government’s efforts to strengthen the existing digital infrastructure through compelling initiatives such as Digital India and powered by one of the cheapest data prices in the world enabled by telecom companies, have led to enhanced and faster levels of internet adoption across the country”, Dolly Jha, managing director, Nielsen India said in a statement adding that the study showcases a strong upsurge in the number of female active internet users across rural India, this coupled with rural India’s willingness to adopt technology at a faster pace.
While social networking or chatting remains the top activity on the internet across India with 503 million active internet users, video watching and listening to online music are among the top five activities done on the internet. Close to 440 million users watch videos on the internet of which 54% are from rural India. The male to female split among active internet users is 60:40.
Despite 56% of active internet users belonging to rural India, online shopping remains to be heavily dominated by its urban counterpart. 47% of the online shoppers are from upper strata of society.
Users of online banking and digital payments have been identified as urban, affluent users two-thirds of them belonging to the age bracket of 20 to 39 years. While the usage is higher in urban areas, 46% of users are from rural India. This activity is more common among males as the male to female divide is 69:31, according to the study.