According to the research report titled 'Internet in Rural India', released by Internet And Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International, about 15 million claimed internet users and 12 million active internet users (estimated) existed in rural India by the end of December 2010, and around 7.45 million claimed internet users and 5.5 million active internet users in rural India in December 2009.
Active Internet users are defined as users who surf the internet, at least, once a month. The total number of people residing in rural India is 568 million. Of that, about 47 million (estimated) people are computer literate.
Of the total number of internet users surveyed, about 46 per cent access the internet from CSCs(Common Service Centre), or cyber cafes located in their localities. A CSC is a rural tele-centre, powered by broadband-enabled computer, printer, scanner, and web-camera. More than 90,000 CSCs exist in India. The majority of CSCs and cyber cafes in rural India charge between Rs 11-20 per hour, for internet access. Only 6 per cent access the internet from their homes, and 5 per cent from mobiles.
The report further mentions that the consumption of the internet in rural India is mainly centred around entertainment and communication, and is still not leveraged for utilities like booking rail tickets, accessing weather information and acquiring knowledge about farming techniques.
The majority (41 per cent) of the respondents surveyed, used the internet for watching, listening and downloading photos, videos and music. About 32 per cent respondents used it for e-mail and chatting purposes. Only 5 per cent leveraged it to get information about farming techniques. While 3 per cent used it to book travel tickets, 2 per cent employed the internet for retrieving weather information.
The report points out that various government initiatives facilitated by DIT (Department of Information Technology) such as NeGP (National e-Governance Plan), SWAN (State Wide Area Network) and CSC (Common Service Centre) are increasingly maturing, and that this could be the main reason for the rise in number and consumption of internet users in rural India.