After China and United States, India has maximum number of internet users – 112 million by September, 2011 and another approx. 9 million more would be added by year end. This is the result of survey carried out by IMRB and the Internet and Mobile Association of India.
The profile of users is evolving fast and there are more internet users in towns with a population of less than 5 lakh than in the top eight metros put together. School children makes up more than a fifth of the users and more than one in 10 belongs to the lowest strata of society.
The internet explosion is also rapidly opening up markets for online businesses, consumers and retailers. More and more companies are offering their wares online to save intermediary cuts and offering luxury to its customers to order the goods while sitting at home and office. E-commerce is growing as well at an unprecedented pace.
Already, world-renowned firms like Google, eBay, Yahoo and Facebook, have a large presence in India and they are delighted by the prospects before them. Even though the user base is vast, the total number of internet connections is just 14.7 million of which 11.87 million are broadband links. An average unlimited broadband plan costs around Rs. 700 per month, which is still too expensive for an ordinary person in India.
The survey found that more than 75% of internet usage is among school and college going students and those who have recently graduated. There is a stark contrast in the usage pattern between urban and rural users. An urban youth accesses the internet for emails, social networking and research about education. A rural youth uses the internet to listen to music, watch videos, download photos and email.
Mumbai has the highest number of internet users – counting to 6.2 million, followed by Delhi/NCR – at 5 million then Kolkata – at 2.4 million and Chennai- 2.2 million. The survey has found that common access points of internet such as cyber cafes continue to be important, there has been a dramatic fall in access from cyber cafes. Further, 48% used the internet at least six times a week and 28% used it daily.
Keeping in view of population of India, we still have very less netizens compared to China who have 500 million users. The main stumbling block for less penetration is high broadband rates and negligible infrastructure like electricity in villages and small towns. Telecom ministry should look into these problems and their project of Aakash tablet would be very successful if they could reach out to every nook and corner of the country.