India will have close to 165 million mobile Internet users by March 2015—up from last month's 87.1 million, according to a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB. The figures reflect the current trend of people increasingly reaching out to the web through smartphones, tablets and dongles.

According to the report, the number of mobile Internet users increased to 87.1 million by December 2012 from 78.7 million users in October 2012—including users who accessed the Internet through dongles and tablet PCs. Of the 78.7 million users in October 2012, 61 million were Off-Deck users—users accessing sites other than those specified by the operator, while 15 million were On-Deck users—users accessing only sites specified by the operator. “The remaining 2.7 million users accessed the Internet using dongles (i.e. connected to internet using 2G, 3G or high-speed data cards),” the report added.


Mobile Internet users to continue to rise

The numbers are expected to grow to 92.9 million (by March 2013), 130.6 million (by March 2014) and 164.8 million by March 2015. The number of mobile internet users in the country stood at 4.1 million in March 2009, the study said.

The report found the average price of mobile devices being used to access the Internet to be Rs 8,250. This is an indicator of the fact that a lower number of low-cost and inexpensive feature phones are being used to access Internet and that smartphones are taking over as the primary Internet device.

Interestingly, according to the findings of the report, the average monthly bill of a user accessing the Internet on mobile devices is Rs 460, of which about Rs 198 is spent towards Internet expenses. The report found this to be a “very healthy trend” as it shows the users' willingness towards spending almost 40 percent of their bill for Internet access, leaving the rest for other services.

Among other things, the survey highlighted that a large number use mobile devices to send or receive emails, communicate and browse social networking websites. It added that most of the usage revolved around these activities. The survey found that users access app stores and watch online videos too. Among other activities, the report found that while a lower number of users accessed app stores, the engagement of these app stores was high—most accessed them daily. Activities like booking tickets and banking services are accessed less than once a week.

The survey revealed, “This is an encouraging trend for mobile content developers as it shows that users are willing to access disparate content.”

Online videos, games or reading online news were accessed through mobile devices about two to six times a week. Online games are accessed by nearly 50 per cent of mobile Internet users, while less than 30 per cent of users read news and watch online videos. 

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