Rural India saw a 45 percent growth in active internet users, significantly higher than urban areas which saw a growth of 28 percent during the same period, according to Bharat 2.0 Study by consumer insights firm Nielsen.
With 352 million users — almost 20 percent higher than urban areas —rural India has a large internet consumer base.
“Availability of budget smartphones and affordable mobile data along with the Indian government’s efforts to strengthen the existing digital infrastructure, have led to enhanced and faster levels of internet adoption across the country,” said Dolly Jha, Managing Director, Nielsen India.
Almost 60 percent of the rural population is yet to come aboard the internet revolution, meaning that there a lot of headroom in India for further growth. Urban India, on the other hand, has registered a 59 percent penetration growth with 294 million active internet users.
As of December 2021, India had 646 million active internet users aged two and above, according to the study.
Despite more internet users living in rural parts of India — 56 percent — online services such as e-commerce and banking are still dominated by urban internet users.
So, what services do Indians use online? According to the study, social networking or chatting tops the charts followed by video watching and listening to online music.
Close to 440 million users of the total 500 million users watch videos on the internet of which 54 percent are from rural India. The male to female split among active internet users is 60:40.
The methodology for the study, according to Nielsen, involved a face-to-face systematic stratified random survey across all states and towns/villages. The research was conducted between September 2021 to December 2021 and covered over 110,000 respondents.