A new report says India will have 500 million Internet users by June this year, which means it will have more than a third of its 1.3 billion strong population online, and it will retain the second spot behind China in a ranking of countries most populating the Internet.

But it is still far from addressing the digital gender gap. "Internet user market is still a male preserve in India," says the - Internet in India 2017 report - published jointly by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) & Kantar IMRB report. There are estimated 143 million female internet users overall, which is about 30% of the total Internet users.

"While 'Digital India' is paving its way in rural India, the underlining digital gender gap still persists," it says.

As the digital population rises, India is still marred by slow Internet which runs on 2G and 3G connections. In January 2018, Speedtest Global Index put India on the 112th spot on its mobile Internet speed ranking, with a download speed on 9.14 mbps. Norway was number one on the list with a mobile download speed of 62.75 mbps.

The report also says that in rural areas, the ratio between male to female Internet users is 64:36, and the proportion of users by gender has seen a steady growth over the past year. "The increasing gender parity in internet usage is a welcome development," the report says.

At 481 million in Dec 2017, India's internet users grew more than 11.34% over Dec 2016, according to the report. While Internet penetration stood at 35% of the population.

The report findings suggest that urban India witnessed a 9.7% annual growth in Dec 2017 with 295 million users. While rural India with 186 million users saw an annual growth of 14%, compared to Dec 2016. The Internet penetration in Urban India improved from 60.6% in Dec 2016 to 64.8% in Dec 2017, while rural India saw an annual increase from 18% to 20.3% in Dec 2017.

Also, the journey to half-billion Internet user mark is bound to lure Internet business from around the world.

Read more: Women, older people to drive digital spending: report

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