India has over 504 million active users as of November 2019, according to the 'Digital in India' report by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
Of this, 53 million were added in just six months – between March and November 2019. The high penetration of internet in the rural areas of India is largely responsible for this leap. There are now 227 million internet users in rural India, 10 per cent more than those in urban.
With the advent of cheaper smartphones and the drastic reduction in data plans across operators, access to the internet has become more possible in India, shattering the digital divide that existed between rural and urban Indias before. Internet users in rural areas have grown at a pace of 18 per cent in just the last six months, while big metros showed a growth of 12 per cent.
After the NCT of Delhi (68), Kerala registered the highest internet penetration among the states – 56. In South India, Kerala leads the other states by quite a margin. Even Karnataka, one of the major IT hubs in the country, has only 42 per cent internet penetration.
Kerala has been ramping up efforts to see that everyone – even those in disadvantaged communities - have access to the internet. In 2019, it announced its decision to have Internet access made a basic human right. Plans for an ambitious 1000-crore Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) was also laid out to fulfil this promise.
One other important fact the report highlights is that the percentage of women users has grown significantly over the last few years. The proportion of female internet users increased by 2 per cent in both urban and rural markets.
While Social networking, chatting and entertainment contribute to most of the usage, the report predicts that the next wave of growth would be seen in activities like watching/reading news online and email.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) represents the entire gamut of digital business in India. Established in 2004, it addresses the challenges faced by the digital and online industry.