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The number of Internet users in India was estimated to be 432 million in December 2016, according to a report ‘Internet in India 2016’, jointly published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India & IMRB, today. The number of internet users is expected to reach between 450-465 million by June 2017.

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While the growth of internet usage in India is mainly being fuelled by the rural sector, the urban user base starting to show signs of levelling out.

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In Urban India, there were estimated 269 million internet users in December 2016, while in Rural India, there were 163 million Internet users. The report finds that urban India has close to 60% internet penetration, reflecting a level of saturation. However, with rural India having only 17% penetration, there is still large scope of development.

The future growth policies therefore must focus on bridging the digital divide that exists between urban and rural India today. In terms of numbers, Urban India with an estimated population of 444 million already has 269 million using the internet. Rural India, with an estimated population of 906 million as per 2011 census, has only 163 million internet users. Thus, there are potential 750 million users still in rural India; if only they can be reached out properly.

Frequency:
The report also finds that 51% of urban Internet users or 137.19 million use internet daily. On the other hand, 242 million or 90% of the urban internet user’s user’s use internet once a month.

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In Rural India, 48% or around 78 million are daily internet users. On the other hand, around 140 million or 83% of the rural internet user’s user’s use internet once a month.

Gender:
Among the Rural Internet users, the ratio between male to female Internet users is 75:25. The proportion of Internet users by gender in Rural India has seen much change over last year with Internet users among rural females growing at 30%. The increasing gender parity in internet usage is a welcome development.

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Demographics:
An analysis of ‘Daily Users’ reveal that both in Urban and Rural India, the younger generations are the most prolific users of internet. The gender ratio is slightly better in Urban India, while both urban and rural India show almost similar ratios of working and non-working women registering as daily internet users.

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Suman Chaudhary
An engineer by education and writer by profession, Suman keeps tab on startup ecosystem of India and leads the research team of IndiaWeb2 for covering funding deals, merger & acquisition and market reports.

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