Connectivity empowers economic opportunity, convenience: Telenor

  • 93% of respondents believe their mobile usage improves their quality of life
  • More women than men say mobile connectivity enhanced their options for working & generating income

Connectivity empowers economic opportunity, convenience: Telenor

People across Asia are united by a firm belief that connectivity empowers them with more economic opportunity, daily convenience, and greater access to essential services, according to a new study by Telenor.

In a statement, the telco said its study, entitled “Digital Lives Decoded,” released as part of Telenor's 25th anniversary in Asia, surveyed over 8,000 mobile internet users across eight countries.

They are Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The survey revealed a common appreciation for the benefits of an “always-on” life, where mobile connectivity enriches relationships, delivers convenience and makes it easier for people to participate in the digital economy.                                           

A resounding 93% of respondents from the region believe their mobile usage improves their quality of life, the survey highlighted. Connectivity empowers economic opportunity, convenience: Telenor

For Malaysia, the study noted that disparities between urban and rural respondents persist with just 42% of respondents saying mobile usage “significantly improves” quality of life vs 60% in urban areas.

Overall, women lead this trend with 64% saying their quality of life is significantly enhanced compared to 52% of men, it noted.

This trend is most apparent in Thailand (75%) and Indonesia (71%), where the highest number of women are connecting to “significantly better” lives through their mobile use, the survey added. 

In Malaysia, over half of women respondents (55%) indicated the same.

Jørgen C. Arentz Rostrup, head of Telenor Asia, said it is often reported that mobile devices are coming between people, distracting users from those around them and damaging relationships and interpersonal communication skills. 

“However, this study dispels that notion. Compared to before the pandemic, mobile data usage has more than doubled in most Asian markets, reshaping how we communicate at work and at home. This survey shows that people want the changes in digital use and their daily lives to stay.” 

Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd’s head of sustainability Philip Ling said the world now runs on the Internet where every layer of society has become dependent on their mobile devices, as reflected in this survey.

“From the 1,000 over Malaysian respondents, it is apparent that people are taking advantage of the various Internet innovations to improve their lives.

“However, it also revealed that digital gaps still persist in some areas of communities,” he said, addking that it's important to find ways to help these underserved communities.

The research said nearly all respondents surveyed have their mobile device with them for at least half of the day, and one in five are never without their phone.

Yet, the majority of respondents surveyed feel they strike a good balance on technology use (76%), it said.Connectivity empowers economic opportunity, convenience: Telenor

People in the Philippines and Thailand are most dependent on their mobile phones, the survey highlighted, with 29% and 26% respectively saying they are never without their mobile phones.

However, in Malaysia, this is true for only one in five (20%) respondents.

This dependence is set to grow, with nearly three in four people (74%) in the region and we can expect their mobile usage to increase in the coming years, the survey said.

It added that at 72%, Malaysia is in line with regional averages while the trend is greatest among respondents in Thailand (82%).

The research also showed that generational differences in how people feel about the surge in time spent online are apparent.

However, Gen Z respondents are more likely to feel that they are overusing technology.

Along with their millennial counterparts, Gen Z respondents were also the most concerned about having the right skills to keep pace with technology, it added. 

This was a concern shared across generations, with 85% of respondents worried that their digital skills will not keep pace with a rapidly evolving digital environment. In Malaysia, this was true for 95% of respondents, the study noted.

Following a surge in digital adoption, Malaysian respondents signaled the highest concerns around privacy and security of mobile usage, with 98% vs 93% of respondents across the region. 

Of those who reduced their mobile usage in the past year, one in three Gen Z respondents in Malaysia cited privacy and security concerns as the top reason for the decrease. 

This was the highest across all markets. Conversely, people in Thailand were least concerned, with nearly a quarter of respondents not concerned about this at all, the survey showed.

It highlighted that Malaysian respondents were the least optimistic about the potential for mobile technology to advance environmental sustainability. 

Two-thirds of those surveyed believe that access to mobile phones is “very important” for them to lead greener lives in the future. However, that share was lowest in Malaysia (57%) and Singapore (41%). 

Additionally, people cited the greatest benefits come in the areas of reducing paper, waste, and electricity (69% of respondents), being able to communicate more efficiently (67%) and providing better access to public transport with more information (55%). 

However, this does not take into consideration that surging data use will require greater energy consumption, the survey indicated. 

Connectivity empowers economic opportunity, convenience: Telenor

The study also points to the greater potential women see in mobile technology, with more women than men saying mobile connectivity has enhanced their options for working and generating income and given them better access to information and education opportunities. 

Interestingly, Singapore is the only country where this trend is reversed, with more males (54%) than females (49%) finding that mobile technology improves their lives significantly.

On average, respondents said they also recognise how mobile connectivity is inclusive, giving people greater access to essential services which enrich their daily lives, such as education and healthcare services. 

Malaysian respondents on the other hand said they were less likely than regional counterparts to find that mobile usage “significantly improved” their access to services: education (33% vs 49% average) and healthcare (35% vs 44% average).

However, it is around financial inclusion where mobile devices are really levelling the playing field, with 92% of respondents say having a mobile device has increased their access to financial services while more than half (56%) believe their access to financial services has “significantly improved”. 

This was true for 51% of Malaysian respondents, the study showed.

It is also worth noting the disparity between responses of those living in cities (60%) and rural areas (49%), which highlights the ongoing need to broaden the reach of these services to those outside urban areas, it said.


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