Indian internet users have registered the highest-ever presence, with over half (52%) of the population of the world’s most populous country now using the internet. According to a recent survey conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar -- covering over 86,000+ households across all states and Union Territories of India (barring Lakshadweep) -- in 2022, India had nearly 759 million active internet users, a 10% year-on-year growth. Data from the report ‘Internet in India Report 2022’ shows that of the total 759 million, nearly 399 million users are from rural India, while urban India has around 360 million users.

According to the study, the addition of users has slowed down since 2020 to sub-15 percent. In 2022 Active Internet Users (AIU) saw a 10 percent growth at 759 million compared to 692 million in 2021. The year 2021 witnessed an 11 percent increase compared to 2020. In 2018 and 2019, the growth rates were upwards of 20 percent.

However, in terms of percentage of internet penetration, Urban India scores higher with over 70 percent of the population accessing the internet. While rural India scores lower, it is expected to aid the growth in internet penetration in the next 2 years. According to estimates by 2025, nearly 56 percent of all new internet users will be from rural India as the total population of Indians with access to the internet is expected to hit 900 million in the next 2 years.

The report also points out that nearly 100 percent of users access the internet over their mobile phones. Also, usage of the net on other smart devices and screens has also seen an encouraging 13 percent jump in 2022. Bulk of the internet consumption, however, continues to be for digital entertainment and communication coupled with social media. Social commerce saw a huge 51 percent year-on-year growth and digital payments saw a 13 percent growth, with an estimated 338 million users. Only 36 percent of digital payment users are from rural India, according to the report.

However, what stands out as a sore point is the digital divide within Indian states, for instance, while Goa has nearly 70 percent, Bihar has just over 30 percent of its population accessing the internet. Even in gender, while male users still form about 54 percent of the total users, women seem to be catching up. In 2022, 57 percent of the new users were women and by 2025 65 percent of all new users would be women.

While India might have surpassed China to become the most populous country in the world, there is still a wide gap in terms of internet penetration between the 2 countries. According to Statista, in 2022 China had nearly 1.06 billion internet users in the country out of the total 5. 3 billion estimated internet users globally.

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