India seems to have three digital divides:
1. Between those who can afford to access the Internet and those too poor (andÂ therefore lack the awareness) to access the net
2.Â Between urban and rural areas
3. Between those who have a decent broadband (high speed) Internet connection and those who donâ€™t.
A new report (India Online 2008) puts India’s Internet user base at a pitifully low 49.4 million with 82% of online India coming from urban areas and the rest from rural areas.
The study from Research and Markets is said to be based on a survey of 12,000 households in 40 cities and 4,000 households in 160 villages.
If the study is accurate, Internet penetration in India is a tiny 4.5% of the total population (various studies put the U.S. Internet penetration rate between 66%-70%).
According to the survey, nearly 90% of regular Internet users accessing the net from home or workplace in India do so daily while only 33% of cybercafe based Internet users access the net daily.
Not surprisingly, Internet users from home tend to be heavier online users compared to their use of traditional and offline mediums like newspaper, TV and radio.
Broadband Scenario Grim
According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, India had a mere 4.73 million broadband Internet subscribers at the end of August 2008 (we suspect even this number is an exaggeration and much of it of poor quality).
Most broadband subscribers in India currently access the Internet via DSL or cable (both unreliable if you go by the several complaints on various forums).
The situation is worse when you realize that broadband in India is defined by the bozos atÂ Telecom Regulatory Authority of India as greater than equal to a mere 256 Kbps.