Over the past decade, India’s voyage through the digital landscape has been a truly extraordinary one. Within the expansive domain of Internet user statistics, a captivating mosaic of figures and patterns comes to the fore, painting a vivid picture of the nation’s ever-evolving interaction with the virtual realm.
As of January 2022, an impressive tally of 658 million individuals had become denizens of the Internet, with a penetration rate standing at 47%. Undeniably, the digital surge has traversed the length and breadth of the subcontinent, reaching from bustling urban thoroughfares to the tranquil expanses of rural hinterlands.
This article delves into the intricate tapestry of demographics, varying connectivity speeds, and the burgeoning influence of social media, all of which collectively illuminate India’s ongoing metamorphosis in the digital sphere.
Popular Internet Users Statistics – Editor's Pick
- In January 2022, India had 658.0 million Internet users.
- The Internet penetration rate in India was 47.0% of the total population in early 2022.
- Analysis by Kepios shows a 5.4% increase, adding 34 million Internet users between 2021 and 2022.
- Approximately 742.0 million people in India remained offline in 2022, accounting for 53.0% of the population.
- Ookla’s data highlights Internet connection speeds in India at the start of 2022:
- Median mobile Internet speed via cellular networks: 14.39 Mbps.
- Median fixed Internet speed: 47.40 Mbps.
- India’s median mobile Internet speed increased by 55.7% (5.15 Mbps) in the twelve months leading to 2022, according to Ookla.
- Ookla’s data also reveals a 32.1% increase (11.51 Mbps) in fixed Internet speeds during the same period.
- Social media users in India comprised 33.4% of the total population in early 2022.
- There has been a 4.2% growth, adding 19 million social media users between 2021 and 2022.
Overview of Internet Penetration in India
- In January 2023, there were 692 million Internet users in India, accounting for 48.7% of the total population.
- This represents a slight increase from 2022 when there were 687 million Internet users in India.
- The growth of Internet penetration in India has been driven by a number of factors, including the increasing affordability of smartphones, the expansion of mobile broadband networks, and the government’s efforts to promote digital literacy.
- Despite the growth of Internet penetration, there are still significant disparities in Internet access between urban and rural areas. In 2023, 67.3% of urban Indians had Internet access, compared to only 30.8% of rural Indians.
- The most popular activities on the Internet in India are social media, online shopping, and watching videos.
- India is expected to have over 1 billion Internet users by 2025, making it the second-largest Internet market in the world.
- The growth of Internet penetration in India has been driven by the increasing affordability of smartphones. In 2023, the average price of a smartphone in India was around $150, making it much more affordable than in previous years.
- The expansion of mobile broadband networks has also played a role in the growth of Internet penetration in India. In 2023, there were over 1.1 billion cellular mobile connections in India, of which over 900 million were 3G or 4G connections.
- The government of India has also taken steps to promote digital literacy in the country. In 2023, the government launched the Digital India program, which aims to connect every village in India with broadband Internet and to train 500 million Indians in digital skills.
How is the Growth of Internet Penetration Impacting India's Economy?
- The growth of Internet penetration in India has had a number of positive impacts on the country.
- It has helped to improve education, healthcare, and financial inclusion. It has also created new opportunities for businesses and employment.
- There are also some challenges associated with the growth of Internet penetration in India.
- These include the spread of misinformation and hate speech and the increasing risk of cybercrime.
Quick Look: What are Indians Using the Internet For?
According to a 2022 survey by Statista, 87% of internet users in India use the internet to communicate with friends and family.
- 84% of internet users in India use the internet to watch videos and movies, and 67% use it to listen to music.
- 71% of internet users in India use the internet for educational purposes, such as taking online courses or reading educational articles.
- 69% of internet users in India use the internet to read news and current events.
- 61% of internet users in India use the internet to shop online.
58% of internet users in India use the internet for banking and financial services.
- 76% of internet users in India use social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
- 55% of internet users in India play online games.
- 47% of internet users in India use the internet to research products and services.
- 43% of internet users in India use the internet to search for jobs.
- 38% of internet users in India use the internet to plan travel.
Demographic Breakdown of Internet Users in India
69% of Internet users in India are male.
31% of Internet users in India are female
The divide between the usage of the Internet by men and women is quite evident.
The gender gap in Internet access in India is slowly narrowing. In 2019, only 27% of Internet users in India were female. However, this number has increased to 31% in 2023.
The growth of Internet penetration in India has been accompanied by a shift in the age demographics of Internet users. In the early days, Internet users were predominantly young and male. However, as the cost of Internet access has declined and the availability of smartphones has increased, we have seen a significant increase in the number of older people and women using the Internet.
|Age group||Percentage of Internet users|
|15-34 years old||36%|
|35-54 years old||27%|
|55 years and older||18%|
|Below 15 years old||19%|
States with the highest number of Internet users in India
|States||Number of Users (approx.)|
|Uttar Pradesh||90 million|
|Tamil Nadu||70 million|
Top Indian cities with the highest number of Internet users
|City||Number of Users|
4. Socioeconomic Status
Internet users in India are more likely to be from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. About 60% of Internet users have a college degree or higher, compared to only 20% of the overall population. This disparity is also slowly narrowing, however, as more and more people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are getting access to the Internet.
|Socioeconomic background||Percentage of Internet users|
|High (college degree or higher)||60%|
|Middle (high school diploma or equivalent)||30%|
|Low (less than a high school diploma)||10%|
Socioeconomic factors play a pivotal role in shaping Internet usage patterns in India. There are a few key factors that need to be particularly taken into consideration:
- Income Levels: Higher-income households are more likely to afford Internet access and relevant devices, leading to increased usage.
- Education: Digital literacy is often tied to education. Those with higher education levels are more likely to utilize the Internet effectively.
- Urban-Rural Divide: Urban areas generally have better infrastructure and connectivity, giving urban populations an edge in Internet access.
- Occupation: Professionals and students are more likely to require and use the Internet extensively for work, education, and communication.
- Language Barriers: The availability of content in local languages significantly impacts usage, especially among non-English speakers.
- Access to Devices: The availability of smartphones and computers directly influences Internet access, with mobile phones being a primary gateway for many.
Digital India Statistics
“Digital India” is an initiative launched by the Government of India to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The program was launched on July 1, 2015, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Its primary goal is to ensure that government services are made available to citizens electronically by improving online infrastructure and by increasing Internet connectivity across the country.
The initiative aims to achieve a few key objectives including the development of digital infrastructure and digital literacy, making governance more efficient, transparent, and accessible, promoting digital empowerment, boosting the electronics manufacturing industry, and strengthening cybersecurity measures.
- As of 2023, India has over 1.3 billion Internet users, up from 481 million in 2017.
- The number of smartphone users in India has also increased significantly, from 100.6 million in 2018 to 130 million in 2023.
- The government has launched several initiatives to promote digital literacy in India, including the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA), which has trained over 4.22 crore people in digital literacy.
- The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the leading digital payment platform in India, with over 730 crore transactions (by volume) worth Rs 11.9 lakh crore facilitated in 2022-23.
- The Digital India campaign has also had a positive impact on the e-commerce sector in India, with sales growing by 71% in 2022-23.
Digital India: Predicted Transformation of India's Economy
|Sectors||Estimated Growth Potential|
|Financial Services||$170 billion|
|Job and Skills||$70 billion|
Devices and Platforms
- In 2010, there were only 100 million mobile Internet users in India.
- By 2023, the number of mobile Internet users in India had grown to 1.05 billion. This represents a growth of over 10,000% in just 13 years!
- The growth of mobile Internet users in India is being driven by a number of factors, including:
- The increasing affordability of smartphones
- The expansion of mobile data networks
- The government’s Digital India campaign
- The rise of mobile Internet has had a major impact on the lives of Indians. It has made it possible for people to access information and services that were previously unavailable to them. It has also created new opportunities for education, employment, and entertainment.
- In 2023, 73% of India’s Internet traffic was generated from mobile devices.
- The average Indian mobile Internet user spends 9 hours per day online.
- The most popular activities for mobile Internet users in India are:
- Watching videos
- Using social media
- Shopping online
- Making payments
- The rise of mobile Internet has had a major impact on the Indian economy. It has created new jobs, boosted e-commerce sales, and made it easier for businesses to reach customers.
- Internet users increased by 192 million in the last 12 months.
- The annual growth rate in 2021 was 4.0%. It is quite possible that the lower growth might be due to challenges in data collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Internet Usage Patterns
'The Year in Search 2020: India' report by Google defines the time spent on various Internet service-based platforms as the redefining of value. According to the report, the curiosity of netizens saw quite a hike in 2020.
Online shopping transitioned from novelty to necessity, with increased interest in high-value items like smart TVs, laptops, and cars. The user journey shifted online for tasks from brand discovery to purchasing, leading to new expectations – Indians now expect swift delivery of goods and services to their doorstep instead of visiting physical stores.
- There was a 50% increase in the year-over-year searches for the keywords 'buy mutual funds'.
- 50% of vehicle users in India agreed that they would consider buying necessary groceries online.
- The rural shopping scenes in India saw a 45%+ increase in 2020.
- In states like Manipur, Odisha, and Bihar, there was a 300% increase in the growth of searches for online doctor appointments.
- ? of every online gamer has paid for a premium membership/benefits on the respective gaming platforms.
- With the dawn of online grocery shopping, there has been a 1.7 times hike in delivery searches in Chandigarh, Surat, and Indore.
- 70% of Indian parents, post-pandemic, were willing to invest in online courses for children if they found the content fruitful.
- There was a 50% increase in the watch time of science-related videos on YouTube.
- 2020 saw a significant rise in netizens looking towards improving their skills at home in various sectors. There were 14 times more searches in online classes and a 90% and 60% increase in the search volume of keywords such as 'beauty and fitness at home' and 'how to pay online' respectively.
- 50% of the Google searches from India were centred around the keyword 'certificate courses'.
E-Commerce Platforms Usage Statistics
- The total number of e-commerce platform users in India matches up to 120 million in 2023.
- The value of e-commerce sales in India amounts to a brilliant $73 billion as of May 2023.
Top E-Commerce Platforms in India
|Platform||Monthly Visits in Millions|
Social Media Usage by Indian Netizens
- In January 2022, India had a total of 467.0 million social media users.
- This number accounted for approximately 33.4% of the total population, though it’s important to consider that social media users may not be unique individuals (refer to detailed notes on data).
- Between 2021 and 2022, social media users in India saw an increase of 19 million, representing a growth of 4.2% according to an analysis conducted by Kepios.
Top Social Media Platforms in India
|Platform||Monthly Visits in Millions|
Internet Usage and Regional Variations
According to the first edition of Google's annual report titled 'Year in Search: India,' Internet users have multiplied immensely, but along with the rise of the users, fresh ideas, information, and type of content consumed have also found their own niches and preferences. As the report suggests, accelerated and unprecedented search rates are visible in the three 3Vs: Voice, Video, and Vernacular Languages.
- 60% of the vernacular language users in India interact with voice assistants through their mobile devices.
- ? vernacular users use video streaming platforms such as YouTube to learn something new or search for 'how-to' guides.
- The features of Google Translate have been used by netizens approximately 17 billion times to translate webpages to local, vernacular languages in 2020.
- There was a 100% increase in the number of year-over-year searches for the keyword 'Indian Premier League' and an 80% increase for the keyword 'local news'. Of the rural users of the Internet, there was a 1.5 times surge in the search volume for the local word, Kethi, or farming.
- 84% of India's online content consumers preferred their video content in non-English, vernacular languages.
How Are Small Businesses Harnessing the Power of the Internet?
According to a 2022 report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, online businesses in India are expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2030. This growth is attributed to:
- India has the second-largest number of internet users in the world, with over 900 million users. This number is expected to grow to 1.1 billion by 2025.
- Over 75% of internet users in India access the internet through their smartphones. This makes it easy for people to start and run businesses online, even if they don’t have access to a computer.
- The same survey found that 29% of internet users in India use the internet to create a website for their business.
- The e-commerce market in India is growing rapidly, and is expected to reach $350 billion by 2030. This provides a large and growing market for online businesses to sell their products and services.
- According to a 2023 report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), 42% of internet users in India have started their own business online.
- The same report found that 71% of online businesses in India were started within the past five years.
- A 2023 survey by Statista found that the top three reasons why Indians start online businesses are to earn extra income (47%), to be their own boss (43%), and to follow their passion (38%).
- The IAMAI report found that the most popular types of online businesses in India are e-commerce (42%), education (18%), and software development (16%).
- The report also found that online businesses in India are generating an average of $10,000 in revenue per month.
Government Initiatives and Policies
The government's Digital India Campaigns, initiatives, and policies collectively strive to improve digital accessibility, literacy, and empowerment across various segments of the Indian population, promoting the use of digital technologies for personal, educational, and economic development.
- National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM): Launched under the Digital India campaign, NDLM aims to provide digital literacy training to at least one person in every household. It offers training modules to help people use digital devices and access digital services.
- Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA): This initiative aims to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate by imparting digital education to individuals in rural areas, enabling them to use digital devices and access online services.
- BharatNet Project: Formerly known as the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN), this project aims to provide broadband connectivity to all gram panchayats (village administrative units) in the country, promoting Internet access in rural areas.
- Rural ICT Infrastructure Project: Spearheaded by the Ministry of Rural Development, this project aims to establish Community Information Centers (CICs) in rural areas to provide access to information, digital services, and government schemes.
- National Digital Library of India (NDLI): This initiative provides free access to a wide range of educational resources, including books, articles, and other materials, to promote digital learning.
- SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds): An online platform offering free courses from school to university level to ensure equitable access to quality education.
- Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (DISHA): Launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), DISHA focuses on providing digital literacy and skills training to government employees.
Challenges in Internet Access
Internet access has seen significant growth in recent years in India, but there are still several challenges that affect widespread and equitable access to the Internet. Some of the main challenges include:
- Digital Divide: There is a significant disparity in Internet access between urban and rural areas. While urban centres generally have better Internet infrastructure and connectivity, rural areas often face limited access due to inadequate infrastructure and lower awareness of digital technologies.
- Infrastructure: Despite improvements, Internet infrastructure, including broadband connectivity and high-speed networks, is still underdeveloped in many parts of the country, particularly in remote and rural areas.
- Affordability: Internet services can be relatively expensive for many individuals, especially in lower-income segments of the population. The cost of devices, data plans, and lack of competition in some areas can make it difficult for people to afford regular Internet access.
- Lack of Digital Literacy: Many people, particularly in rural areas, lack the necessary digital skills to effectively use the Internet. This can hinder their ability to access information, services, and opportunities available online.
- Geographical Challenges: India’s diverse geography poses challenges for Internet infrastructure deployment, particularly in hilly, remote, and difficult-to-reach areas.
India is making big strides in the digital space.
The online realm for Indian netizens has evolved into a vibrant hub where they can satisfy their inquisitiveness and pursue diverse interests. It serves as a virtual space where one can explore anything from app development to skincare regimens, and even discover career-enhancing certificate courses.
However, the journey towards digital inclusivity is not yet complete, as certain segments of the population lack access to devices and connectivity. Collaborative efforts are essential to bridge this digital divide, ensuring that every Indian can partake in the educational and opportunistic aspects that technology affords.
The disruptive impact of COVID-19 has spurred businesses to harness digital tools, adapting to the surge in online engagement. Whether it’s e-commerce delivering essential supplies to rural communities, traditional industries embracing digitization, or the swift transition to “on-demand” experiences, India is undergoing a profound digital transformation.
As we navigate these changes, it is imperative to recognize the imperative role of equitable access and holistic participation, enabling all Indians to fully embrace the benefits of this digital revolution.
- Popular Internet Users Statistics ? Editor's Pick
- Top E-Commerce Platforms in India
- Challenges in Internet Access