The report, titled Mobile Internet in India 2017, estimates 291 million urban mobile internet users and 187 million rural users by June 2018.
Buoyed by cheaper smartphones, faster connectivity, and affordable services, the number of mobile internet users in India is estimated to touch 478 million by June 2018, a new report has said. The report, Mobile Internet in India 2017, published jointly by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and KANTAR-IMRB, estimates 291 million urban mobile internet users and 187 million rural mobile internet users as of December 2017.
According to the report, the number of mobile internet users increased by 17.22 percent from December 2016 to reach 456 million users by December 2017. Urban India witnessed an estimated 18.64 percent year-on-year rise, while rural India witnessed an estimated growth of 15.03 percent during the same period. With 59 percent penetration, the report highlights that urban India is expected to show a slowdown, while rural India - with only 18 percent mobile internet penetration - is clearly the next area of growth.
The study further finds that mobile internet is predominantly used by youngsters, with 46 percent of urban users and 57 percent of rural users being under the age of 25. Urban India has around twice the proportion of users over the age of 45, while the age range of 25 to 44 has almost equal distribution of users in urban and rural areas.
IAMAI revealed that young students are the most prolific users of most services while middle-aged and older men are showing greater inclination towards use of social networking and browsing; older men tend to be more inclined towards audio/video streaming. Also, working women have the highest propensity of social networking and browsing, while non-working women have the highest propensity for text chatting.
Affordability and expenditure
As per the report, affordability on mobile internet has been the primary factor for the huge popularity of the service; so much so that internet penetration in India is being driven by mobile internet. It also revealed that expenditure on voice has been steadily decreasing from 2013. With the popularity of VOIP and video chatting, the expenditure on voice services has decreased drastically in recent times, leading to a rise in proportion of data expenditure in comparison to voice expenditures for most users. It revealed staggering data:voice ratio that changed from 45:55 to 84:16 in just five years from 2013 to 2017.
In terms of industry stakeholders, IAMAI stated that the mobile internet ecosystem comprises various stakeholders such as, telecom operators, handset manufacturers, and internet service providers. The growth of mobile internet can be attributed to the positive developments by each stakeholder. Handset manufacturers have been producing more affordable smartphone/featurephones, while telecom service providers are now offering better connectivity at more affordable prices.
Mobile internet usage
However, the report brings to the fore the fact that mobile internet usage is still limited to few specific service categories. The advent of digital entertainment has had considerable impact on mobile internet usage. Streaming services have a symbiotic linkage with usage growth. Many telecom service operators now bundle subscription of such services to lure customers while the latter are more likely to take up higher quality connections to ensure lag-free streaming and better audio/video quality.
Going forward, IAMAI hopes that the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018, with a focus on new technologies like 5G, will promote better quality data services at more affordable prices and help address the digital divides, promoting internet penetration in the rural areas via mobile internet.
Established in 2004, the Internet and Mobile Association of India aims to represent the entire gamut of digital businesses in India. In the last 13 years, the organisation has come to effectively address the challenges facing the digital and online industry, including online publishing, mobile advertising, online advertising, ecommerce, mobile content and services, mobile and digital payments, and emerging sectors such as fintech, edutech and healthtech, among others. The association has a membership of over 300 Indian and MNC companies, and offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata.