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India's netizens: Now 100-mn strong

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

After mobile phones, India is set to see another revolution in the space. According to the latest report of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the number of internet users in India crossed the 100-million mark in September. This is a 13 per cent increase over last year, when the number of internet users stood at 87 million.

The total number of ‘claimed’ internet users now stands at 112 million. Claimed users are those who say they have accessed the internet to get some specific information (checking results online, for example).

The study, conducted in association with research company IMRB, says, with the affordability of internet-friendly devices increasing, the number is expected to reach 121 million by the end of December.

“A 100 million internet users is considered a critical landmark for the country. With this, internet use in India is expected to enter a critical period of growth, with the possibility of the country becoming the largest internet user in the world in this decade,” said IAMAI President Subho Ray.

Rank Country Users (in million)
1 China 485.0
2 USA 245.0
3 India 100.0
4 Japan 99.2
5 Brazil 75.9
As on June 2011      Source: Internet World stats

The numbers assume importance because the Indian government has for long been trying to make internet accessible to the masses.

Earlier this year, IT and communications minister Kapil Sibal had said his ministry was bringing out a policy on rolling out mobile governance and electronic service delivery bill as part of its e-governance initiatives.

Interestingly, though the number of Internet users has increased significantly, the number of broadband subscribers in India remains quite low. According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the country’s broadband subscriber base stood at 12.69 million in August. This indicates that people access the internet not only from their homes but also from offices, cyber cafes, schools and other common centres.

There is also a growing population, of about nine per cent at present, that accesses the internet on mobile devices, not laptops or desktops. Ray, however, says mobiles are still supplementary devices to access internet.

The report also points out that the urban-rural digital divide is increasingly blurring. Going forward, of the 121 million estimated internet users, 92 million would be from urban areas and the rest from the rural parts of the country. The data also highlights the success of the government’s IT initiatives. The usage of internet from common service centers in the country has also gone up. Nearly 148 people have accessed the net from every one broadband connection in common service centres in villages.

Common access points like cyber cafes continue to be important, though there has been a fall in access from these centres. According to the study, around 37 per cent of users access the internet from home, 23 per cent from cyber cafes, 22 per cent from office, nine per cent from mobile devices and rest from schools and other centres.

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First Published: Tue, November 08 2011. 00:03 IST