Real growth potential of internet usage lies in rural sector
For the next boost of internet growth, there are certain roadblocks that need to be addressed before the untapped user-base can be converted to internet users.
Growth of internet usage is slowing down in India, with Urban India already having around 60% penetration, but the real growth potential lies in the rural sector which has till date only 18% penetration.
According to a research, in terms of numbers, Urban India with an estimated population of 444 million already has 269 million using the internet. Rural India, with an estimated population of 906 million, has only163 million internet users. Thus, there are potential 750 million users still in rural heartlands; if only they can be reached out properly.
In Rural India, 80% of non-users are not aware of the benefits of Internet and 20% don’t feel the need for internet.
Surprisingly, even in Urban India, 76% non-users reported not being aware of the benefits on Internet. Consequently, 99% of non-users are non-committal towards adopting internet in the coming days.
It is interesting to note that in both Urban and Rural India, ‘lack of means’ (Affordability etc) are not that critical a factor for the non-users.
Also Read: Internet users in India likely to top 500 million by June 2018
Availability and affordability of smartphones have changed the choice of device and place of access of internet in Urban India, and there is no denying that smartphones have driven internet adoption in rural India to a large extend.
However, for the next boost of internet growth, there are certain roadblocks that need to be addressed before the untapped user-base can be converted to internet users.
Internet is perceived predominantly as a requirement for the youth in both rural and urban India, with activities like social networking, entertainment etc being the main purpose for using internet.
Real digitalisation of India can only occur when internet transcends being a mode of entertainment and becomes a necessity for daily life.
Urban India is fast adopting e-commerce, digital payments, online ticketing/cab booking, etc that makes internet an integral part of daily life.
Even though these services are fast growing in popularity, they are still limited in their spread and scope, especially in the rural heartlands.
For these services to prosper there is need for better connectivity and stronger IT infrastructure in the rural sectors, extension of e-governance and other services in digital form.
What is perhaps more critical is the spread of these services in the local languages for ease of communication and adoption of the population.