Connectivity: Mobile internet use swells across India
Affordability helps accelerate penetration
The number of mobile users in India reached 478 million in June 2018, according to estimates by Kantar IMRB and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
For the year ending in December 2017, estimated mobile internet use rose 18.6 percent in urban India and 15.0 percent in rural India. Growth in urban areas, where penetration is 59 percent, is expected to slow, while growth in rural areas should accelerate, as rural mobile penetration is only 18 percent.
Increased affordability has helped accelerate mobile internet penetration, which is driving internet penetration overall. Monthly household spending on mobile internet has declined steadily since 2014. And with the rapid rise in data use, the proportion of monthly spending on voice has dropped precipitously. Lower-priced handsets have also made mobile internet access more affordable.
Across India, mobile users predominantly are men: 60 percent in urban areas; 67 percent in rural areas. And mobile users are young: 46 percent are under age 25 in urban areas; 57 percent in rural area. Older mobile internet users, over age 45, are more likely to live in urban areas.
With the increase in the availability of content, entertainment has become a leading purpose for mobile internet use, particularly in rural India, while communication and social networking continue to be leading reasons why people access the internet with mobile devices. Using mobile internet for online financial transactions remains a lower priority, particularly in rural India, but should rise in importance because of government initiatives.
The use of the mobile internet by purpose—texting, social networking and browsing, and streaming content—varies by demographic group. Students are most likely to engage in all of these internet activities. Working women tend to use the mobile internet for social networking and browsing, while women not in the workforce use the mobile internet more for chatting.