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 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, 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 point 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. A significant increase from 2018, when this figure stood at about 326 million. 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.