As of June 30, India connected another 52 million users to the Internet. This brings India’s internet user base to 352 million — making it the world’s second-largest, according to a press statement issued by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
China, with an estimated 618.1 million internet users, far outpaces the rest of the world. The United States, despite having a total population of just 321.6 million, has 266.4 million internet users, to rank third.
India has made massive gains connecting its populace to the internet. It took more than 10 years for India to go from 10 million to 100 million internet users, just three more years to reach 200 million users, and only one year to break the 300 million mark — and there are no signs of slowing down. “Clearly, Internet is mainstream in India today,” said the IAMAI.
The growth in internet usage is being driven primarily by mobile devices. Although PC sales were down 10 percent in India last year, more than 60 percent (213 million) of users accessed the internet via mobile devices. Internet user numbers have increased more than 26 percent since October 2014, from 278 million to the current 352 million. Mobile users have also grown almost 34 percent, from 159 million last October to 213 million.
India’s mobile Internet user base is increasing, especially among the less well-to-do segment of the population. This is due to a number of factors including increased usage of internet enabled devices, lower priced smartphones, headsets and data plans. Mobile phone is now the main access point for almost 38 percent of India’s active internet users. During the fiscal year 2014-2015, almost 70 million smartphones were sold in country, a 33 percent increase.
According to a recent study by the Swedish multinational technology communications provider Ericsson, 45 percent of India’s mobile internet users “come from the urban, less educated and low income backgrounds.” Older people are also embracing the mobile Internet as a way to stay in touch with family and friends. In 2014 the percentage of mobile internet users over the age of 50 increased from 1 to 4 percent.
Internet penetration (approximately 19 percent) is still a big challenge. Infrastructure issues across large areas of the country present special problems with most mobile users having to rely on access via towers and satellite. Location, of course, plays a big part with “63 percent of India’s mobile internet users facing network and connection problems when accessing the web,” according to Ericsson.
Still India’s effort to connect the country to the internet continues to move ahead. India is expected to have 500 million internet users by 2017 with the increase being driven primarily by mobile users.
Conservative projections show that India will have more than 236 million mobile internet users by the end of the year, with the number expected to reach 314 million users by 2017.