Urban India vs Rural India: How India is Using The internet

Published by Abhijit Bangal on

Urban India vs Rural India: How India is Using The internet

Urban India has been using the Internet for quite a while now and the user base is healthy. And rural India is following suit.

Though India is one of the major markets in the world when it comes to telecom sector, the internet speeds aren’t really that encouraging. But yes, the rural India is getting a feel of today’s technology. Let’s dig a bit deeper about how India is Using The internet.

How India is Using The internet: Urban vs Rural Comparison

Lets consider some facts and figures like Internet speed, user distribution, demographic, and platforms to know how India is Using The internet in Urban and Rural areas.

Internet Speeds in India

The developed parts of India, as compared to the rural ones, has long back got to use the internet, though the speed does vary. If you talk about the average mobile Internet download speed, India stands at the 128th rank, out of 140 countries as of December last year. But that’s about mobile internet. However, the average broadband download speeds in the second and third quarter in 2019 are promising. The speeds shot up to reach 34.07 Mbps, which is a growth of nearly 16.5%.

How the Users are Spread

There are nearly 625 million broadband connections in India according to Medianama. Out of these, a major portion is occupied by just three states – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. Remember, there are 28 states and 8 union territories in India. You wonder how much the contribution of Google’s Internet Saathi is, that had reached 100,000 villages in India, way back in August 2017. For the uninitiated ones, Google’s Internet Saathi is an initiative taken by the search engine company for women empowerment.

Analyzing the Trend

Urban India vs Rural India: How India is Using The internet

Urban India vs Rural India: How India is Using The internet

The image above says it all. Be it urban India, or rural, more than 40% of women are now using the Internet, which is a good sign. However, the Internet access via the PC machines is less than half of it. It clearly shows, the use of mobile Internet is more and on the rise. But, it’s interesting to see that the rural India is taking to Internet more than the urban one core user group is concerned. Even share of the daily active Internet users is more in rural India.

According to Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, who is the executive vice president of the insights division at Kantar:

“There is not much difference in the demographic or the overall usage and duration as well. But the moment we look at the usages, there’s a significant difference. So, basically what this means is that, there are fewer activities that rural users are doing, but they’re doing it for a longer period of time.”

Rural users are more into search and watching online videos. Maybe, something like Google search gives them more freedom of learning things, and watching online videos is a major source of entertainment for them, makes the rural part engaging in such activities more. This is how India is using the internet.

More Consumption of Data Via Short Videos

We all know that short videos are one of the biggest types of entertainments today. And rural India has proven that right, hands down. An app like TikTok has way too many users than social media apps like Instagram, WhatsApp or Facebook. This underlines the above fact that in the rural parts, online videos are consumed more. Many people earn money and getting famous on TikTok by making videos everyday.

It is a bit surprising to see that apps like Facebook and WhatsApp aren’t much loved in rural branch of India. These apps, otherwise dominate the Internet and social media. Their usage indexes are 47 and 37 respectively. And understandably, the online shopping category finds the least takers. This is definitely smarter in the urban parts of the country. And due to this, it commands usage index at a mere 29. This is how India is Using The internet.

All in all, we can say that rural India is all about watching online videos and a bit of social media. This means, there is more scope for the messaging apps to penetrate in these parts. And without a doubt, companies have an eye to cash in on the situation.


According to a recent study by Internet & Mobile Association of India (IMAI) and a report published in WARC, the number of internet users in rural India has surpassed the users in metropolitan cities for the first time.

Another report also finds women are partly responsible for driving the trend along with better connectivity and more affordable price plans. This is how India is Using The internet in Rural and Urban areas.

Categories: Technology


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