Rural India sees 45% increase in active Internet users since 2019: Study

Internet adoption across the country has accelerated due to the availability of low-cost smartphones and affordable mobile data, and government's efforts to upgrade the current digital infrastructure

May 6, 2022

Rural India takes the lead by having about 352 million Internet users, 20% higher than the urban demographic

Female active Internet users grew by 61% since 2019

About 440 million people view videos online, and 54% of them belong to rural India

Almost 60% of India’s rural population is still not actively using the Internet

Rural India has witnessed a 45% increase in Internet users, according to a study titled Bharat 2.0 Internet by Nielsen, a global company for audience measurement, data, and analytics. 

Growing Potential

While urban India has grown by 59% to 294 million active Internet users, rural India leads the way with 352 million active Internet users, which is over 20% more than the urban user base.

The survey has also mentioned that female active Internet users grew by 61% since 2019, and one in every three female Internet users in rural India is an active user.

As per a market expert, Internet adoption across the country has accelerated due to the availability of low-cost smartphones and affordable mobile data, as well as the government’s efforts to upgrade the current digital infrastructure. The introduction of 5G is another reason for increased adoption as it would result in a large increase across certain categories that make use of Internet services. Government initiatives such as Digital India have further boosted the rate of Internet adoption in India.

However, the survey also claims that about 60% of India’s rural population does not actively use the Internet, opening up more opportunities for Internet adoption across rural India.

According to the study, the number of active Internet users who are aged 12 years and above is 592 million. This is a 37% growth since 2019, for the same category of users. It also said that 81% of users aged 50 and above are active in accessing the Internet regularly, and amongst users aged 2 years and above, India has 646 million active Internet users as of December 2021.    

Active Internet Trends

Watching videos and listening to music online is among the top five activities among India’s 503 million active Internet users. About 440 million people view videos, and 54% of them belong to rural India. Active Internet users are split between men and women in a ratio of 60:40.

Other activities include online shopping and online banking and digital payments, dominated by urban users with 2/3rd of them being between 20-39 years old.