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By 2025, there'll be more internet users in rural India than urban areas: report

The internet adoption rate in rural parts of the country has grown 13 per cent to 299 million internet users over the past year. On the other hand, internet users in urban India rose by 4 per cent to 323 million in 2020, around 67 per cent of the urban population in 2020

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India is likely to see a 45 per cent increase in its active internet users (AIU) by 2025 as against 2020, according to a report by IAMAI Kantar ICUBE 2020. The number of AIU in the country is expected to increase to 900 million by 2025 from around 622 million in 2020.

The report also revealed that even though the internet penetration in urban areas is more than twice that of rural areas, users in rural have been growing at a faster rate on a year-on-year basis in 2020 due to a higher adoption rate.

"By 2025, there will be more internet users in rural India than in urban India. Given this, the digital ecosystem will need to evolve to address the specific needs of this emerging demography. Vernacular, voice and video will emerge as game-changers for the digital ecosystem over the next few years," said Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, executive VP, Insights Division, Kantar.

The internet adoption rate in rural parts of the country has grown 13 per cent to 299 million internet users over the past year, or 31 per cent of India's rural population, said the report. On the other hand, internet users in urban India rose by 4 per cent to 323 million in 2020, around 67 per cent of the urban population in 2020.

As per the report, someone who has accessed the internet at least once in the past month is considered an AIU. However, the growth rate of AIU has progressively reduced over the years and is the lowest in the last four years. In urban India, the top nine cities account for 33 per cent of AIU.

The report also mentions that nine out of 10 AIU on average spend around 107 minutes (1.8 hours) actively on the internet daily, with AIU in urban India spending 17 per cent more time as compared to rural India.

Maharashtra has the highest internet penetration, followed by Goa and Kerala, while Bihar has the lowest, followed by Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

In both urban and rural areas, smartphones remain the device of choice for accessing the Internet because they are relatively cheap with cheaper data plans. Around 17 per cent of AIU in the country access the Internet using a personal computer, while 6 per cent access it through tablets, smart televisions and smart speakers.

About 96 per cent of total internet users in the country access the internet for entertainment, while 90 per cent use it for communication and 82 per cent to access social media.

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