Media and Internet Penetration

Chapter 4


This chapter discusses media and internet consumption patterns in the study settlements. The chapter has been divided into five sections, beginning with the communication media that are used in the study settlements, with a focus on digital media including television and mobile telephony, moving on to the sources of information that are most important for respondents, and the extent to which the internet has come to be a source of information in these settlements. It also includes spending on media consumption by households. The third and fourth sections explain internet penetration levels at the household and user levels respectively. This survey, however, does not cover the cost of procurement of internet-accessible devices. The fifth section concludes the chapter.



Sources of information

Figure 4.1 Major sources of information for households (% of households, N=1,634)

Note: In addition to the specified sources,19 respondents mentioned SMS, 31 respondents

mentioned announcements and meeting with local bodies, 24 respondents mentioned local bulletin boards, 2 respondents mentioned meeting with CBCs and CBOs, while 36 respondents mentioned other sources. Other sources specified include SHG, school, anganwadi worker, friends, shop, mobile, corporator’s office, office, and market

People in the settlements under study have access to information from multiple sources. Television (TV) is a major source of information for 80.2% of households (Figure 4.1). Newspapers are a major source of information for around 36% of the households. Interaction with neighbours is also a major source of information in these closely-knit and dense settlements. However, the internet is a major source of information for only 11.1% of the households. Radio as a separate device is listened to by only 3.5% of the households. However, radio (FM) is heard through mobiles as well, and this survey has not looked at the proportion of households listening to radio through mobile phones.

Internet as a source of information

Figure 4.2 The internet as a source of information by wealth quintile (% of households, N=1,634)

Figure 4.3 The internet as a source of information by socio-religious groups (% of households, N=1,634)

There is no significant variation in the internet as a source of information across religious/social groups (Figure 4.3). But there is a significant variation by wealth quintile. Only 5.8% of households from the first or lowest quintile report the internet as a source of information, whereas nearly 17% in the fifth quintile access information through the internet (Figure 4.2). There is a direct correlation between economic status and the internet as a source of information.

Type of information sought

Figure 4.4 Type of information sought from sources of information (% of households, N=1,634)

Entertainment-related information is what is most commonly sought by all households (Figure 4.4). This is followed by information on mobiles and other communication devices, including internet/mobile packages. Information on government health programmes, self-help groups, loan facilities and education scholarships are other topics that people want to know about. Forty-seven percent of households seek information on employment opportunities.


Internet use and non-use

Table 4.1 Internet users in the household


This section examines use or non-use of the internet in households from the study settlements, providing insights into the degree and nature of internet penetration in low-income settlements. Table 4.1 shows the level of internet penetration in the settlements under study. 56% of households do not have any internet users1. 44% of households are ‘connected households’, that is they have at least one user.

Looked at in terms of the total population, 82% of the people surveyed2 do not use the internet (Table 4.7). This figure points to the extent of the digital divide in the city3. Of the 82% who do not access the internet, 41% have never even heard of the internet (Table 4.8).

Figure 4.5 Percentage of households with at least 1 internet user by settlement (N=1,634)

Among the settlements, Patil Estate has the highest percentage of households using the internet, followed by Janata Vasahat and Laxmi Nagar. Ambedkar Nagar and Mahatma Phule Nagar have the least share of households connected to the internet (Figure 4.5).

A further break-up of the user households reveals that of the total households, 27.5% have 1 user, 13% have 2 users, 2.8% have 3 users and only 0.8% have 4 or more users (Figure 4.6). A further analysis of the household pattern of internet use has been done in the following sections.

Figure 4.6 Number of internet users per household (% of households, N=1,634)

Socioeconomic status

The user/non-user profile of households has been analysed from three aspects, viz socioeconomic status of the households, possession of mobile phones in the household, and households with computer usage (Table 4.2).

Table 4.2 Percent distribution of connected and unconnected households by socioeconomic characteristics

Note: *Not applicable for households with no mobile phone

Education and financial status show a direct correlation with internet connectivity.

Only 15% of households where no member has completed or is studying in Standard 10 are internet user households. Where at least one member has completed schooling, the proportion of connected households increases to more than 55%.

Similarly, the proportion of internet-connected households is higher in the higher wealth quintiles.

Monthly family expenditure on mobiles shows a direct correlation with internet use. Households spending more on mobile phones are also more likely to be connected to the internet.

There is no direct link, however, between socio-religious status and internet use. In fact, the proportion of Scheduled Tribe households connected to the internet is more than that of households falling in the General category.

Internet connectivity is thus emerging as a function of education and affordability.

Possession of mobile phones and internet use

Table 4.3 Percent Distribution of connected and unconnected households by possession of types of mobile phones

Table 4.3 shows internet connectivity vis-à-vis possession of mobile phones. The proportion of connected households is highest in households possessing smartphones (77%). Internet connectivity is also higher in the case of households possessing any internet-accessible phone. The possession of such phones (either smartphone or feature phones) is a function of the household’s income status.

Households possessing computer skills

Figure 4.7 Use of computers in the household by settlement (% of households where at least one household member uses a computer)

Seen across settlements, Janata Vasahat, and Laxmi Nagar, which have higher percentages in the upper wealth quintiles, have more households where at least one member uses computers (Figure 4.7). Around 32% of households across settlements report the use of computers (computers are owned by only 11% of households, so clearly a significant number use computers elsewhere, including at work or school/college).

Figure 4.8 Use of computers by gender (% of households, n=522)

The use of computers by female members of the household is lower than by male members of the household6. Fifty-eight percent of connected households report use of computers by male members only and 29% of households report use by female members only (Figure 4.8). Only about 11% of households report that both men and women in the household use computers. This points to sharp gender differentials in the use of computers at home.

Table 4.4 Computer skills in connected and unconnected households

Note: *N=1,634, **N=1,396 as the child roster was not administered in Anand Nagar

The use of computers by at least one household member and computer training for at least one household member are directly related to internet connectivity. Those with the ability to use a computer are more likely to be connected households, ie households where at least one person uses the internet (Table 4.4). However, households with children learning computers at school are not necessarily among the internet-connected ones.

Expenditure on media consumption

Table 4.5 Monthly family expenditure on internet, television and mobile phone – talktime and SMS only (% of households)

Note: *Percentages have been calculated for households that incurred expenditure in accessing these devices. Households that reported ‘no expenditure’ either because the household did not own the device(s) or because the cost was covered by the employer have been excluded from the analysis

One indicator of the importance given to digital communications by low-income households is their monthly expenditure on television7, mobile telephones8 and the internet. A large proportion of households spend up to Rs 300 on television (Figure 4.5). Very few households spend more than this. The normal rates for cable television in the city vary between Rs 200 and 300, which covers most Hindi as well as regional language (Marathi) channels.

Almost 45% of internet user households spend less than Rs 100 on the internet. Another 25.5% spend Rs 100-200. Taken together, more than 70% of connected households spend less than Rs 200 on the internet. The proportion of households spending more than Rs 300 is much lower. It seems that households access the internet mainly through basic data packs. This aspect has been explored further in Chapter 5.

Table 4.6 Family expenditure on mobile phones (talktime and SMS only) by wealth quintile (percent of households)

*40 households had no mobile phones and another 80 households reported no expenditure on mobiles

Assessment of expenditure on mobile and cell phones across wealth quintiles shows that households from the lower quintile spend less on mobile phones (talk-time and SMS) in comparison to those in the higher quintiles (Table 4.6). For instance, more than 58% of households from the 1st quintile spend Rs 300 or less on the internet monthly, in contrast to about 36% of households in the 5th quintile. In the 5th quintile, nearly 40% of households spend more than Rs 500 on mobile services. Economic status certainly seems to be a factor in expenditure pattern on communication.

Monthly expenditure on communication (television, mobile telephony and the internet) has been assessed to understand the importance given to digital communications in the lives of low-income communities. Such spending appears to form a fairly sizeable proportion of total monthly spending. Forty-five per cent of households spend up to 5% of their income on TV, mobile telephony and internet while 37% spend 5-10% of their total family income on these communication services. Ten percent and 7% of households actually spend 10-15% and above 15% respectively of their family income on communications (Figure 4.9). (The method for computing the family income has been described in Chapter 2.)

Figure 4.9 Expenditure on media as a proportion of total family income (% of households)


Internet awareness

Table 4.7 Internet penetration at the level of household members

Table 4.8 Internet awareness amongst non-users at the level of household members

Internet awareness is an indicator of not only present levels of digital inclusion but also the future potential for digital inclusion of low-income urban households. We see that only 18% of household members in the 16-70 age-group are users. 82% are non-users (Table 4.7). Of these non-users, only 59% have heard of the internet (Table 4.8). Others have not heard of the internet at all.

How users were introduced to the internet

Figure 4.10 How users were exposed to the internet (% of internet user respondents, n=564)

Note: ‘Other’ includes computer class, cybercafe, self

Most users (47%) were introduced to the internet by their friends (Figure 4.10). Thirty-eight per cent reported learning about the internet at school/college. However, this does not imply that formal training on computers/internet is available to all of them. While schools have computer literacy as part of their curriculum, students are rarely given hands-on or adequate exposure to computers (especially in state-run schools).

Less than 5% of users reported that they learned of the internet at their place of work or from colleagues. This suggests limited exposure to the internet at the workplace, not surprising since most of the respondents are employed in the informal sector where the internet is not commonly used.

Figure 4.11 Awareness of purpose of internet use (% of internet user respondents, n=564)

It is also important to understand users’ awareness of the different uses and functions of the internet. The majority of individual users reported that the internet could be used for social networking (67%), entertainment (66%) and seeking news and information (62.8%) (Figure 4.11). We found that the term ‘internet’ is not recognised by many, including those who are users. They know ‘Facebook’ and ‘WhatsApp’ and refer to these specific services when discussing their use or non-use. Forty per cent of user respondents reported that the internet helps in seeking jobs, education and online transactions. Only 12% of respondents reported that the internet can be used for e-mail/communication.

Users’ awareness about the purpose of internet use by gender shows that a higher proportion of men than women know about social networking and entertainment (Table 4.9). A 26-year-old male internet user from Anand Nagar working in a private job said, ‘Women do not know about the internet in this settlement. Most men also do not use it… People in these settlements are more concerned with basic survival, so they use the mobile only for calling. They do not know the value of the internet. Even boys use the internet only for timepass. They do not know any other purposes of the internet’.

Table 4.9 Awareness of internet users about the purposes of internet use by socioeconomic and demographic characteristics (n=564)

Awareness about the purpose of internet use does not show any distinct pattern by age-groups. But awareness of online services and of use of the internet for jobs, education, news and information-search is strongly related with educational attainment. Fifty percent of users who are college graduates (BA/BCom/BSc) responded that the internet can be used to hunt for jobs and for online education.

Nearly all socio-religious groups show a greater awareness of internet use for social networking. Caste or religious affiliation shows no bearing on levels of awareness about the internet and its functions.

Occupation, however, is linked with awareness about the potential uses of the internet. A higher proportion of users with regular jobs in the formal/informal sector (ie service) said that the internet could be used to search for information on jobs/education and for online services. Daily-wagers, the self-employed and students are more aware of its use for entertainment.

Box. 4.1 Computer literacy training in state-run schools

Interviewer: Did they teach you computers?

Respondent: Yes, they taught computers but we never actually handled computers… The teacher gave us a lot of notes.

Interviewer: You had no practical training, only theory?

Respondent: We had some computers, but the class was of only 40 minutes… We had 100 students in our class so it was difficult for everyone to get time on the computer.

(Female16, student, Standard 11)

Internet users and non-users by socioeconomic characteristics

The following sections give a comparative user/non-user profile of (1,634) individual respondents by:

  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Marital status
  4. Caste and religious group
  5. Educational status
  6. Occupation, and
  7. Wealth status

Figure 4.12 shows internet use by gender. The percentage of internet non-users is much higher among women (84%) than men (42%). There is therefore a clear gender divide in internet use. This gender divide has been analysed further in Chapter 6 on barriers to internet access.

Figure 4.12 Internet access of individual respondents by gender (% of respondents, N=1,634)

A very clear pattern emerges in internet use by age (Figure 4.13). The proportion of internet users declines as age increases. The majority of users – 64% – are in the 16-20 age-group. There is a sharp decline in the proportion of internet users in higher age-groups. Thus only 7% of respondents above 35 years use the internet.

Figure 4.13 Internet access of individual respondents by age (% of respondents, N=1,634)

Younger age-groups are more open to new technologies. Literacy is higher amongst younger populations today with more children in school. Also, computer literacy is now part of school education, so the younger age-groups are far more likely to be computer literate. (Internet users in the under-25 age-group are profiled later in the report.)

Figure 4.14 Internet access of individual respondents by marital status (N=1,634)

A higher number of married respondents are non-users (Figure 4.14). However, this is because most internet users are in the young age-groups and not yet married. It is likely that within the next few years there will be a shift and the proportion of married population using the internet will increase. A high proportion of the widowed population is not online as they are more likely to belong to the older age-groups.

Figure 4.15 Internet access of individual respondents by socio-religious groups (% of respondents, N=1,634)

Caste and religion do not influence internet access in the population studied (Figure 4.15). The proportion of non-users among all population groups, whether General, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe or religious minorities, is nearly the same. It would seem, therefore, that technology is indeed caste- and religion-neutral. Seen thus, the internet is an important tool for social inclusion.

Figure 4.16 Internet access of individual respondents by educational status (% of respondents, N=1,634)

Level of education is a direct determinant of internet use. The number of users shows a sharp increase with increasing level of education (Figure 4.16). Very few persons with no education access the internet (though there were 11 users with no education who were able to use the internet for audio-video functions including watching movies and listening to music online). On the other hand, nearly 80% of the population who are graduates or above use the internet.

Figure 4.17 Internet access of individual respondents by occupation (% of respondents, N=1,634)

The proportion of internet users is high in the case of students and those in service (Figure 4.17). Non-users are higher in the case of the non-working population and daily- wagers. While students may use the internet in school/college, those in service probably have access to the internet at their workplace. The likelihood of daily-wagers getting access to the internet at the place of work is much lower. Also, this section of the population may not be able to afford internet. The proportion of self-employed people using the internet is higher as compared to daily-wagers.

Figure 4.18 Internet access of individual respondents by wealth quintile (% of respondents, N=1,634)

Internet use shows a direct correlation with wealth quintiles. The number of internet users increases with higher economic status (Figure 4.18). Students belonging to economically better-off families also use the internet more. The internet is a facility that not only requires an initial expenditure (in the form of a feature phone, smartphone, tablet, computer, laptop, modem or dongle) but also regular monthly expenditure. Access is therefore strongly determined by affordability. Increasing access will require making high-speed and quality internet connectivity more affordable (as against the basic access that most of these populations have on their mobile phones). In Chapter 5, modes of access to the internet and the quality of access have been studied in detail.



Amongst the total internet user respondents in our study, 25.9% were female and 74.1% were male, clearly pointing to the gender divide in internet access (Figure 4.19).

Figure 4.19 Gender distribution: internet users (n=564)


Age is an important determinant of internet use. A detailed examination of the profile of users shows that the majority (53.5%) are in the age-group 16-20, followed by 24.5% in the age-group 21-25 (Figure 4.20). Together these two age-groups make up nearly 75% of the users. The proportion of internet users decreases as age increases but what is clearly evident is that 95% of internet users in this study are below the age of 35. This conforms to global trends that show that as age increases, use of the internet decreases.

Figure 4.20 Age distribution: internet users (n=564)

Irrespective of gender, most internet users were in the younger age-groups (<30 years) and unmarried (three-fourths of total users). The number of male users (14.2%) in the above-30 age-group is higher than the number of female users (7.6%). Female internet users are concentrated in the younger age-groups indicating that they are recent entrants to the world of the internet.

Educational status

68.4% of internet users in our sampled households had completed secondary, high school or higher secondary education; 29.6% were graduates. Those with no formal education or with education up to primary school would find it difficult to use the internet: only 2% of sampled internet users belonged to this category (Figure 4.21).

Figure 4.21 Educational status: internet users (n=564)


The largest percentage of users are to be found in the student category, followed by the service sector. Daily-wagers are the least in number.

Figure 4.22 Occupational distribution: internet users (n=564)

Not surprisingly, three-fourths of the internet users in the youngest age-group (16-20) and 24% in the next age-group (21-25) are students (not shown). There appears to be a strong correlation between age, occupation and internet use. More than 80% of internet users in the age-group 26-35 years are employed. All internet users from the 35+ age-group are gainfully employed, either in service or self-employed. There are very few users amongst daily-wagers, regardless of age.

Wealth quintile

In our study, wealth emerges as a primary enabler of internet access. Nearly 55% of internet users belong to the fourth and fifth wealth quintiles, while less than 30% belong to the first and second quintiles (Figure 4.23).

Figure 4.23 Wealth quintiles: internet users (n=564)


ICT penetration in the low-income settlements under study began with television and moved on to mobile telephony (leapfrogging landline connectivity) at the household level. The internet has made a recent entry into these neighbourhoods with the arrival of feature phones, smartphones and cheap data packages. However, the internet user population shows the following characteristics:

  1. First, only one-tenth of households reported the internet as an important source of information although 44% of households have at least one internet user. A whole 82% of the adult population in low-income settlements is not online.
  2. Second, of the 82% who are offline, 41% have never even heard of the internet, indicating that awareness is itself a major barrier to internet access.
  3. Third, there is a sharp gender divide in internet use with a greater proportion of men using the internet.
  4. Fourth, availability of infrastructure is strongly related to internet access. Households that have enabling infrastructure including computers, smartphones and feature phones are far more likely to be online.
  5. Fifth, educational level is a direct enabler of internet access. Even households in the poorer wealth quintiles but with more educated members show higher internet use. Households with members who have ICT skills are more likely to be online.
  6. Sixth, wealth is an enabler of internet access. Households in the higher wealth quintiles show greater internet connectivity.
  7. Seventh, there is a wide age divide in internet access. Internet use is focused among the younger age-groups, and declines with increasing age.
  8. In light of the above, it is important to study in detail a) the modes of internet access, quality of access and cost of access and b) barriers to digital inclusion of the urban poor with respect to gender, education and wealth status. Both these aspects have been studied in detail in the subsequent chapters.

1. The question on internet usage in the questionnaire pertained to current use of internet with a cut-off of usage in the previous 3 months. Infrequent users (not even once in the last 3 months) are considered non-users

2. Internet use has been surveyed among populations in the age-group 16-70

3. In comparison, the city-wide statistics provided in the 2014 IAMAI-IMRB Internet in India survey show that 63% of Pune’s population accessed the internet in 2013. The IAMAI-IMRB survey uses the socioeconomic category classification for Indian consumers, which is based on two parameters – educational level of chief wage-earner/head of the household and assets owned by the household. The survey covered different socioeconomic categories and is therefore inclusive of low-income and other groups. It was conducted across PMC (80% of respondents) and PCMC (20%)

4. Basic mobile phones provide voice communication, text and multimedia messaging. Feature phones provide limited internet services

5. Smartphones have some features of handheld computers and permit greater use of the internet

6.The figures under ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ signify computer use by male members only and female members only, respectively. If both male and female members of a household have reported use of computers, it has been put under the category of ‘Both’

7. Here the expenditure on television is not the actual cost of the equipment but the monthly payment on the cable and dish services

8. Similarly, in the case of mobile phones, the cost of the instrument is not taken into account here, only the amount spent on talktime and SMS