New Delhi: In three years, India could have the second largest population of internet users, a report has claimed.
The report, by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, claims that the number of online users will rise to more than half a billion by 2018.
Till June 2014, India was behind China and United States with 190 million users. But it took India 20 years to get the first 100 million users, says the firstname.lastname@example.org report.
The second 100 million users were likely to be generated within the next three years and the third hundred million-mark is expected in just one year after that, the report said.
These are significant numbers as the government is relying on this data to draft its Digital India policy.
There will be more users from the rural areas, more people will access internet from their phones and the number of women users will also rise significantly, says the report.
In 2013, India had 60 per cent users under 25. By 2018, more than half the users are likely to be above 25.
Users in rural areas are expected to go up from 29 per cent in 2013 to nearly 50 per cent in three years. The number of women users are expected to increase from 28 per cent in 2013 to 35 per cent by 2018.
The industry sees these numbers translate into staggering growth potential for the country.
But experts have questioned whether the government is doing enough.
The progress of the government's ambitious 20,000 crore rupee National Optical Fibre Network plan to connect 2.5 lakh village councils across the country with high speed broadband service by 2017 has been poor.
According to a Department of Telecom survey, the speed of laying cables is barely 500 kilometers a month, when it needs to be about 30,000 kilometers a month. Without bridging this massive gap, all projections of becoming a leading internet-friendly nation will fall flat.