New Delhi– Rural India is growing at a much higher rate — around 26 per cent — as compared to the urban areas in terms of mobile internet users, a joint study said on Tuesday.

There has been a year-on-year growth of 15 per cent in mobile internet users between October 2015-2016, said the report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB.

Urban India is witnessing a growth of around nine per cent and rural India around 26 per cent.

“Urban India, with 51 per cent penetration is fast reaching saturation point while rural India with 16 per cent is the future market of growth,” the report added.

It said the number of mobile internet users in India was estimated to reach around 420 million by June 2017 from the estimated 389 million users as on December 2016.

The report revealed that the average monthly bill estimates for urban India showed that the usage of mobile data as proportion of total monthly mobile bill has increased considerably to surpass component of voice services.

“In just over five years, data component has risen from being 45 per cent of total bill to being 65 per cent,” the report said.

The report noted that total monthly average mobile bill has decreased over time, reflecting the greater affordability of mobile services in India.

“This augurs well for mobile penetration in the coming days and can pave the path for greater penetration in rural India as long as affordable handsets are available for the lower income section of the population,” it said.

The IAMAI-IMRB report showed that demographics play a big role in the adoption of mobile internet in India, with close to half of the mobile internet users being less than 25 years and mostly students and young professionals.

“In urban India, communication, social networking and entertainment (videos, songs etc) are the top usages of mobile internet, while in rural India, entertainment rules the roost with social networking and communication being the other services in order of preference,” the report added. (IANS)