According to Bharat 2.0 Study by consumer insights firm Nielsen, rural India saw a 45% growth in active internet users. Rural India has 352 million internet users which is almost 20% higher than urban. As of December 2021, India had 646 million active internet users aged two and above.
On the other hand, urban India registered a 59% penetration growth with 294 million active internet users. The study also revealed that almost 60% of the rural population is still not actively using the internet. The report also stated that the female active internet users grew by 61% since 2019. 1 in every 3 female internet users in rural India is actively using the internet.
As per the study, the number of active Internet users is 592 million who are aged 12 years and above. The active internet user base for 12 years and above has shown an impressive growth of about 37 percent, compared with 2019. The male to female split among active internet users is 60:40. 50 years and above users too are active with 81 percent accessing it daily.
Despite 56 percent of active internet users belonging to rural India, online shopping remains to be heavily dominated by its urban counterpart. 47 percent of the online shoppers are from NCCS A (New Consumer Classification System–affluent users).
Nearly 440 million users of the total 500 million users watch videos on the internet of which 54 percent are from rural India. Video watching and listening to online music are among the top 5 activities on the internet across India, with 503 million active internet users of social networking or chatting being the top activity on the internet with,
Dolly Jha, Managing Director, Nielsen India, said, “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.” She added that there is a “strong upsurge in the number of female active internet users” across rural India, this coupled with rural India’s willingness to “adopt technology at a faster pace”.
“I do expect that with the launch of 5G happening somewhere this year, there are certain categories which are really going to be seeing a significant upsurge. The government has a very aggressive digital agenda in terms of the number of Gram Panchayats which have to be brought under the ambit of internet adoption. Because all the initiatives which the government has built (including) direct benefit to the consumer really hinges on internet connectivity,” said Jha.