Cyber cafes or public access points still remain the primary Internet access points in India with 39 per cent users accessing the Net from cyber cafes, a study by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International has revealed. However, the share of cyber cafes has been steadily declining from a peak of 52 per cent in 2003. Access from home, on the other hand, has steadily risen from 23 per cent in 2003 to 31 per cent in 2006. Access from office showed a marginal increase to 22 per cent in 2006 from 20 per cent in 2003.
One of the most significant finds of the study was that access from schools and colleges remained at an insignificant 6 per cent. This remains a major cause of concern since Internet access through schools and colleges not only creates the next generation of users but also goes a long way in reducing digital and hence, socio-economic divide.
The demographic break-up of the data, too, reveals interesting trends – 53 per cent of school going kids and 53 per cent of college going students access the Internet from cyber cafes followed by 47 per cent of non-working women, who incidentally account for the highest percentage of access from homes, followed by older men (39 per cent). Access from offices is dominated by older men and working women (41 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively).
Home access is prominent amongst SEC A users, with the proportion going down dramatically as one descends the socio-economic order. In fact, for SEC D&E access is dominated by usage from cyber cafés. More significantly, access from schools and colleges goes up from 3 per cent to 12 per cent between SEC A and SEC D&E. Both these trends drive home the need to strengthen public access points as well as access from schools and colleges so that non-affluent classes too have easy and quality access to the Internet.