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India has over 317 million users accessing the internet at least once a month, according to an Internet in India 2015 report by IAMAI-IMRB. Of this, urban India accounts for 209 million users out of an overall urban population of 414 million people, while rural India accounts for 108 million users out of an overall population of 922 million people. This is approximately around 25% of the country’s population. The report estimates that by June 2016, India will have 426 million users.

Note that IAMAI-IMBR conducted the study via a poll covering 8 metros and 27 cities although its not clear how many people it addressed. For rural areas it interviewed 5000 people from various age groups across seven states. Unlike the last time, the agencies have not published average monthly spends on data. The currently published data is roughly in line with Pew Research Center’s report on internet access in developing nations, which pegged 20% of the Indian population to have internet access in April this year.

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Mobile internet users: The report mentions that 276 million people in India, or 21% of the population, accessed the internet on their phones at least once a month. Of this, urban India accounts for 197 million users with the rest coming from rural areas. In urban areas, 94% of internet users accessed it via a smartphone, 64% accessed it from a laptop/desktop device while only 20% accessed it through tablets. 69% of urban users used the internet on a daily basis.

Among the rural internet users, 60% mainly accessed the internet using their mobile phones, 23% through a device installed in their home, while only 6% of the people accessed it through Community Service Centers (CSCs) facilitated by the government. Interestingly, the use of the CSCs has fallen sharply from last year when it was the main point of accessing internet for 26% of rural users. Perhaps due to the ubiquity of cheaper smartphones?

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Purpose of access: 71% of the urban respondents mentioned that they used the internet for communication, followed by 67% for social networking and 59% for entertainment. 24% of urban users used the internet to purchase products while 23% used it to book tickets.

In rural areas on the other hand, 44% of the users used internet for entertainment, 37% for communication, 33% for social media, 14% for online ticketing and 5% for online shopping, indicating that online shopping hasn’t yet really taken off in rural areas.

Behaviour of internet non-users: Interestingly, the IAMAI-IMRB report provides data on urban users that do not access the internet and why. These come in mainly three categories, ones that do not know about the internet, ones without the means to access it, and other who choose to keep away.

Without the means to access it: 29% of the non-users did not own a computer to access the internet while 21% did not have the time to do so. 18% of the users did not own an internet connection while 17% said they could not afford one.

Do not know about the internet: 19% of the respondents were unaware of the existence of the internet and 10% said they needed to learn to use a PC first.

Choose to keep away: Meanwhile, 22% of the respondents said they had no need for the internet, 14% said the internet was for young people and 10% said the internet was not a good medium.

Image source: Flickr user Arrano