India set to surpass US in Internet user base

India internet usage

India is poised to surpass the US as the second largest Internet user base in the world, signaling the digital revolution in the country. The number of Internet users in India is expected to touch 402 million by December, a 49 per cent jump over the last year, making India home to the second largest online user base after China, according to a report released by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International.

Currently, India has the third largest Internet user base in the world after China and the U.S. India had about 375 million Internet users as of October 2015. By December, India is expected to overtake the U.S. and also will become the first country to have largest Internet users in a free market democratic setup, according to the report released on November 17.

China has the maximum number of Internet users with more than 600 million Internet users. While Internet in India took more than a decade to move from 10 million to 100 million and 3 years from 100 to 200 million, it took only a year to move from 300 to 400 million users, according to the report.

Indicating the gender divide in terms of Internet usage in India, the report stated that 71 per cent male and 29 per cent female are Internet users in India. The Internet usage among males has been growing at a rate of 50 per cent while it has been growing at 46 per cent for female users. While the gap in urban India is lesser than rural India, the ratio between male to female Internet users is 62:38 which is still a large gap.  Internet users among females are growing at a rate of 39 per cent compared to 28 per cent among males, according to the report.

The Internet users in rural India are expected to reach 117 million by December and 147 million by June 2016.  This is due to the growing penetration of mobile phones in the country. Rural Internet users witnessed a 77 per cent jump to reach 108 million in October 2015. The number of active mobile Internet users grew about 99 per cent to 80 million by October 2015 and is expected to reach 87 million by December and 109 million by June 2016, the report stated.

The report also reveals that out of all the Internet non-users surveyed in the 35 cities as part of this study, 11.4 million non-users are willing to access the Internet in the next one year and over two-third of them intend to do so through mobile phones.

This phenomenal rise can be attributed to the increasing access of mobile phones by  all sections of society across the country apart from the value-added services provided by the mobile service providers.

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