Internet cafe
(Photo: Reuters)

India is set to emerge as the second-largest Internet user base in the world by the end of this calendar year, as the number of Indians online is expected to grow to 302 million by December.

The number of Internet users in India could see a stellar 32% year-on-year growth from last year's 213 million users, as per a report published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International.

With this growth, India will push the United States, which has 279 million users, from the second spot in terms of the largest Internet user base, and will be seen as the second-largest Internet market in the world.

China has the highest number of Internet users, with 600 million Chinese logged online.

Highlighting the fast-paced spread of Internet across the country in recent years, IAMAI-IMRB said in a statement, "The Internet in India took more than a decade to move from 10 million to 100 million and 3 years from 100 million to 200 million. However, it took only a year to move from 200 to 300 million users. Clearly, Internet is mainstream in India today."

The growth of the user base has obviously taken place largely in the urban parts of the country, but during 2013-14, it is rural India that saw a higher growth percentage in terms of users.

The number of Internet users in rural India has increased by 39% to reach 101 million in October 2014 and is expected to touch 112 million by December 2014.

On the other hand, the Internet user base in India increased by 29% and is expected to reach 190 million by the end of the year. However, urban cities did record a jump in number of users who logged on to the Internet on a daily basis, with 61% using the Internet every day.

The report also highlighted a stark difference in Internet usage patterns between rural and urban India, stating that more than 90% of urban users log online for the primary purpose of searching the Internet, while most among rural users use it mainly for entertainment.

For both rural and urban users, the primary purpose for using the Internet is followed by online communication and social networking, as reported by IANS.

The Internet user base in the country is further estimated to grow to 354 million by June 2015, as per the IAMAI report.