For the first time in India, rural India has surpassed Urban India when it comes to internet penetration. The latest data from the Internet and Mobile Association of India has revealed that people in rural areas tend to have more internet users as compared to urban India.
The report highlights that the rural areas have 22.7 crore Internet users, while in urban areas, the active number of internet users is 20.5 crore. With this, India now has 504 million internet users, just next to China. China hold the first position with the highest number of internet users at 850 million. However, how does the internet penetration has reached rural India? How rural India was able to surpass urban India? Let’s find out.
Cheap smartphones were one reason
India is in the race to become the next big hub for the smartphone industry. India is a price-sensitive market and with cheaper smartphones available in the country has helped the adoption of the internet in rural areas. In India, there are around 48 crore smartphone users, while the number of feature phone users are higher at around 55 crores. With big brands like Xiaomi, Realme, Samsung, Nokia and more launching entry-level smartphones, the price difference between the high-end feature phone and budget-centric smartphone is getting thinner.
Apart from this, some small brands like Itel, Tecno, Infinix and more are catering to the Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities along with rural areas with its range of budget smartphones. This has also helped people living in rural areas to afford a smartphone at a cheaper price tag. The availability of entry-level smartphones to these areas have surely helped to increase internet users.
Telcos have played an important role
The telecom operators have played an important role here. When Reliance Jio entered the telecom space, it drastically brought down the price of data and calling. This led to another revolution where telecom operators had no option, but to provide data and calling at the cheapest rate possible.
The price of data in India is significantly lower as compared to other countries. On average, users can get 1GB of data per day at a minimum recharge of Rs 200. Airtel offers the cheapest data plan at Rs 149 that offers 2GB data, while for 1GB per day, one has to pay Rs 219. Similarly, Vodafone Idea also has a similar plan of Rs 219 that offers 1GB data per day with 28 days validity. Reliance Jio also offers cheapest plan of Rs 149 that offers 1GB of data per day and it comes with 24 days of validity. This coupled with unlimited voice calls and other benefits have encouraged people in rural areas to use more internet.
Rise of regional language content
With the data revolution, the streaming market has seen a steep rise. We have seen that multiple players are now bringing lots of content in regional languages. This is also one of the main reason why there is a sudden rise in internet users in rural areas. In rural India, where one has to pay for TV and DTH connection, using a cheaper smartphone along with cheap data pack has become a medium of entertainment. This coupled with a host of regional content available for free on sites like YouTube and more have helped people to consume more and become active internet users.