Cyber cafes continue to be the single largest access point for internet users, accounting being preferred by 36 per cent of all internet users in India. This was revealed by the ongoing I-Cube 2008 survey conducted jointly by IMRB International and Internet and Mobile Association of India.
In fact, access from cyber cafes recorded an increase of 1 per cent over last year. However, it was far below the peak of 52 per cent in 2003.
IAMAI president Dr Subho Ray commented on the decline, saying, "This is an area where government and other stakeholders keep running in the opposite direction to the users. Since 2000 cyber cafes have been the most important source of internet cafes, but there has been no recognition and absolutely no encouragement of this access point". "It is time that the important of shared access through cyber cafes is recognized by the stakeholders," he added.
The I-Cube survey also reveled that for the first time access through office had overtaken access from homes.
In fact access from home declined to 26 per cent compared to 30 per cent last year. Another positive aspect revealed by the survey was that access from schools had increased this year following a secular trend in increase since 2003.
Commenting on the study Mohan Krishnan, senior vice president BIRD, the specialised unit of IMRB International said "Customers will plump for access modes that are convenient, affordable or free; cyber cafes, offices and schools and colleges fit the description and hence are helping internet user base to grow.
"Benign policy environment towards cyber cafes, mature IT admin policies in offices and colleges, which allow happy hours to surf instead of imposing severe restriction are the need of the hour. In the medium term we have to think up ways to reach the information highway into homes".
The decline is access from home has been attributed by the survey to lower PC penetration in SEC D & E homes, need for privacy and the growth of online gaming market in India.