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IAMAI-IMRB study pegs urban internet users at 37 million for September

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BANGALORE: According to the joint research by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International, Internet users in India have reached 37 million in the month of September 2006, up from 33 million in March 2006. During the same period the number of "active users" has risen from 21.1 Million in March 2006 to 25 Million in September 2006. "Active User" is an internationally accepted and widely used category to define users who have used the internet at least one in the last 30 days.

The numbers are a result of the largest "offline" survey so far carried out in India to estimate the "ever user" and "active user" categories.? The primary survey for the study was conducted in early 2006 amongst 16,500 households covering 65,000 individuals across 26 major metros and small towns in India, with additional coverage of 10,000 business and 250 cyber caf? owners. The survey did not include rural areas.

According to the findings, youth are the main drivers of internet usage in India . College students and those below the age of 35 are the biggest segment on the Internet. Both these segments have the highest proportion of conversion of "Ever" Users to "Active" users of Internet.

Besides the youth the internet hungry small towns are further fuelling the growth. As per the survey, smaller metros and towns are increasingly embracing the Internet evolution and are pushing growth from below. Smaller cities and towns have shown a whopping 142% YoY growth and now account for 25% of all internet users.

Commenting on the survey Dr. Subho Ray, President, IAMAI says, "Although there is a marginal revision of the earlier IAMAI number for the year, given the rapid growth of internet business and government's massive e-Governance programme, it was time to look into the numbers more stringently. This will help better business decisions on part of the industry as well as better resource planning by the government."

Predicting on the future development, Mohan Krishnan, Vice President and Country Manager, eTechnology Group@IMRB, says, "The next round of growth will be driven by new and innovative applications such as blogs, P2P, video on demand and online gaming. While the old favourites such as email, Chat and IM will drive first time users to the medium".
The study estimates that the Internet User base is likely to cross the 40 million mark by March 2007, when the "Ever" User base is likely to hit 42 Million and the Active User base is likely to hit 28 Million. By March 2008, the Ever User base should cross the 50 Million mark. The active user base would reach a staggering figure of 43 million users by the same time.

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