Rural India is not just embracing mobile telephony, it is also warming up to the Internet.
According to the latest report by Internet and Mobile Association of India, the number of people from rural regions accessing internet rose 73 per cent in the last two years.
The report, 'Internet in Rural India', prepared by IAMAI and the Indian Market Research Bureau, states rural India has 38 million claimed internet users and 31 million active Internet users.
Active users are those who access internet at least once a month, while claimed users are those who have used internet at least once in their lifetime.
The report stated the number of claimed internet users in rural India was expected to touch 45 million by December. The number of such users in December 2011 stood at 30 million, while in December 2010, it was 15 million.
"In the next two years, the combination of affordable smartphones, optical fibre backbone and local language content is likely to beat the projection of internet growth in rural areas," said Subho Ray, president, IAMAI.
It is believed access to information, rather than entertainment, is fuelling internet usage in rural India.
About 75 per cent of rural users connect to the internet for entertainment, while 56 per cent use it for communicating with others.
There was growing interest in rural areas to seek education information on the internet, the report added. Community service centres and cyber cafés were major points of access for internet users in such regions.
Mobile phones were fast emerging as an important point of internet access in rural India, the report stated.
Till June, the number of mobile internet users in India stood at 3.6 million, compared with 0.5 million in 2010.