Internet usage in India - statistics & facts

With over 560 million internet users, India is the second largest online market in the world, ranked only behind China. It was estimated that by 2023, there would be over 650 million internet users the country. Despite the large base of internet users, the internet penetration rate in the country stood at around 50 percent in 2020. This meant that around half of the 1.37 billion Indians had access to internet that year. There has been a consistent increase in internet accessibility compared to just five years ago, when the internet penetration rate was around 27 percent.

However, internet accessibility and use in the country largely varied based on factors like gender and socio-economic divide. It was estimated that in 2019, there were 290 million internet users in rural India compared to 337 million urban internet users. But it is worth mentioning that the majority of Indian internet users were between 20 and 29 years of age, and a slightly higher proportion of these users were from rural parts. At the same time, there were far more male internet users in the country compared to female users. And this digital gender gap only increased further in the rural hinterlands compared to urban metros.

A majority of India’s digital population accessed the internet via their mobile phones. In 2018, about 29 percent of the country’s total population were mobile internet users, and this was expected to grow to over 35 percent, or approximately 500 million users by 2023. An increased availability of cheap data plans along with various government initiatives under the Digital India campaign worked together to make mobile the primary internet access in the country. Notably, 4G networks were the most widely used across urban and rural India in 2019.

One aspect wherein India shares the characteristics of other global internet users is its passion for social media. It was estimated that by 2023, there would be almost 450 million social network users in India. Furthermore, the share of Indian population that access social networks is expected to jump from 24 percent in 2018 to over 31 percent in 2023. Facebook was the most popular social networking site in the country. In fact, with about 280 million Facebook users in the country, India had the largest Facebook user base in the world as of 2020.

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Internet usage in India

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