Indians prefer mobiles, not Wi-Fi, to access Internet: Study

Indians have emerged as one of the most voracious users of data globally and they largely use smartphones to access the internet, through mobile networks rather than Wi-Fi.

This is a unique trend since globally internet users tap Wi-Fi to connect to the world wide web. The use of smartphones in India is likely to change the internet economy and open up opportunities worth $50 billion in three-five years, a study showed.

On an average, India has added more than 40 million internet users every year in last five years and currently boasts of having the second-highest number of active internet users globally after China.

The study suggests that India lags China and Brazil in internet penetration (28% penetration compared with 64% in Brazil and 53% in China), but the country’s user growth has been the highest.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. India is expected to add more than 500 million new internet users and online shoppers to its current user base of 390 million, according to a study by Bain & Company in partnership with Google and Omidyar Network.

“This could unlock around $50 billion in potential online commerce in the next 3-5 years,” said Joydeep Bhattacharya, partner at Bain & Company. E-commerce retail sales in India were pegged at $20 billion in 2017, which is 2% of overall retail sales of the country.

“The internet over time has been perceived as a means of social communication and there are many sections of men and women who believe this could be a bad influence on women and can even lead to broken marriages,” said Roopa Kudva, partner & MD, India, at Omidyar Network India Advisors.