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52 rural internet users access it for entertainment Report

Among rural users 52% said their primary reason for accessing the internet was entertainment
52 rural internet users access it for entertainment Report

Rural mobile internet users grew by a staggering 93% between December 2014-Dec 2015, yet only 9% of the hinterland has access to the technology, says a latest report.

In comparison, 53% of urban areas had mobile internet connectivity and grew at 71% during the same period, thereby highlighting the urban-rural divide in the country.

Nonetheless, India hit 306 million mobile internet users in December 2015 growing at an overall 77% from 2014, according to the report released jointly by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and consultancy firm, IMRB. The report projects 371 million mobile internet users for the country by June 2016.

Mobile internet penetration stood at 23% for the whole country, says the report.

According to TRAI, there were 988.7 million mobile connections in India as of August 2015.

The report, Mobile Internet in India 2015, surveyed individuals from 35 Indian cities and towns, and found significant differences in rural and urban user behaviour on mobile internet. For 80% of the 219 million urban mobile internet users, online communication was the top reason for accessing the internet on their devices. Entertainment was top priority for only 30% of these users.

Among rural users, on the other hand, 52% said their primary reason for accessing the internet was entertainment. Communication and social networking stood at 37% and 39% respectively. Abheek Biswas, who was a part of the research team, says that communication could be lower down the rankings due to a preference for "offline" consumption of content.

"We have found that rural users do not like to keep their data services on at all times. They prefer to use it to download videos and then opt for offline viewing," says Biswas, who points out that the gap between the share of communication and entertainment is not large in rural areas.

E-commerce in India has seen some big-ticket investments and glowing projections. Late last year, Goldman Sachs estimated India’s e-commerce market to cross 100 billion USD by 2020.

The just-released report says that only 13% urban mobile internet users and 1% rural users shop via mobile internet. "A lot of final transactions are not happening on mobile. There is still some apprehension among people about transacting on mobile. But online shopping is gaining traction and the numbers might look completely different next year," says Biswas.  

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The Changing Face of Rural India