With over 900 million internet users, India was the second largest online market in the world, behind China. Despite the large number and a consistent increase in accessibility, internet penetration in the country was just under 50 percent, below the worldwide average . In comparison, 99 percent of populations in Denmark, United Arab Emirates, and Ireland had access to the internet.

Internet revolution with roadblocks

One of the main reasons for rapid internet adoption across socio-economic structures was the launch of Digital India in 2015. This was a campaign to make government services available digitally to citizens, establishing the necessary infrastructure with the cheap availability of 4G. Initially, this propelled social media use among the digital population, specifically Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, internet use diversified at a swift rate . With an almost total shift to the digital ecosystem, there was an increase in the use and frequency of streaming videos and music , consuming news, playing games, and ordering groceries and food online.

Accessibility and demographic composition

Even though rural India drove internet usage growth in terms of numbers, the socio-economic divide of the real world extended to the digital space. This was reflected in the lack of awareness in knowing how to use the internet . This stark contrast between rural and urban users was reflected from everything between education to entertainment.

Despite a 91 percent growth in women accessing the internet since 2019, research showed a higher share of internet usage rates among men . On the other hand, compared to the dominance of the younger population from a few years ago, surveys in 2021 revealed that over 80 percent of users over 50 years were accessing the internet daily. With affordable data plans and budget brands across companies, smartphones remained the key device to the online world . E-commerce, however, was dominated by urban centers, specifically among the more affluent classes. Consequently, this reflected in online banking and digital payments use as well.

The complexity of connecting all Indians

The main challenge of integrating India’s digital population was addressing its different layers of diversity. Internet inclusion meant the addition of regional languages along with English, addressing the need for digital literacy across socio-economic layers, specifically among women. What added to this challenge was the government’s clampdown on free speech and content regulation within the digital ecosystem. I ndia ranked among the highest for restrictions on internet worldwide in recent years.
Despite these constraints, the Indian internet market was a game-changer for the economy. With the 5G auction in mid-2022, digitization was bound to take the next step in the country.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 31 most important statistics relating to "Internet usage in India".


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