The Indian public first got access to the internet in 1995. More than two decades on, the country now has the second most number of internet users in the world, just after China.
Since the dawn of the millennium, the percentage of the Indian population with access to the internet has gone up from 0.5 percent to nearly 30 percent in 2016. There has been a three-fold increase since 2011, when the internet penetration rate in India stood at about 10 percent.
Even though less than a third of the population has access to the internet and a large chunk of the market remains untapped, India is the second largest online market with more than 460 million internet users.
The chart above shows the distribution of internet users in Asia as of March this year. The study by Internet World Stats finds that China accounted for 39.4 percent of internet users in the region, followed by India with 24.9 percent.
As of 2016, India had an estimated 262 million mobile internet users living in urban areas, and 109 million living in rural areas.
With growing e-commerce platforms and increasing use of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, the number of internet users is expected to rise in the coming years.
Reports have forecast that by 2021, there will be about 635.8 million internet users in India. This government's Digital India initiative can further fuel this growth.
It has been observed that Indians prefer to use the internet over the mobile. About 323 million people in India accessed the internet through their mobile phones in 2016, which corresponds to about 24.3 percent of the country’s population.