Mobile internet improves quality of life and drives digital inclusion: Telenor Asia Study

Telenor Asia has recently conducted a study involving 8,000 mobile internet users across eight markets (Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) in South and Southeast Asia on the occasion of Telenor’s 25th anniversary in Asia. The first part of the study titled “Digital Lives Decoded” focuses on life and revealed 5 key trends that are working as catalysts for the surge in digital adoption.

The Digital Lives Decoded study revealed a common appreciation for an ‘always-on’ life, with an astounding 91% of Bangladeshi respondents believing that mobile usage improves the quality of life. Overall, women lead this trend, with 63% saying the quality of life is significantly enhanced compared to 52% of men across the region. Whereas in Bangladesh, 59% of women opine in favor of mobile phones improving their lives compared to 50% of men.

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An event was recently organized by Grameenphone, to reveal the findings of the study. Jorgen C. Arentz Rostrup, Chairman, Grameenphone and Head of Telenor Asia, delivered the keynote at the event. In his keynote, Rostrup shared the key trends relating to how connectivity is empowering users with more economic opportunity, daily convenience, and greater access to essential services with the present guests. Followed by the keynote speech, a panel discussion was held where panellists Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone; Van Nguyen, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP, Bangladesh and Senjuti Saha, Director and Scientist, Child Health Research Foundation reflected on the findings in the context of Bangladesh. Dr. Asif Naimur Rashid, Chief Business Officer of Grameenphone moderated the session.

“It’s 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 home. This study also revealed where digital gaps remain. The need to understand these gaps is becoming more important to policymakers, businesses, and individuals alike. Insights from this study can thus act as a map of where to bridge the widest digital divides,” said Jorgen C. Arentz Rostrup, Head of Telenor Asia.

Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone said, “To live our purpose of empowering societies, Grameenphone has been striving to minimize the digital divide through connectivity since its inception. Today, standing at 25, and aspiring to create impact beyond connectivity for the upcoming years, we reflect back on our journey, to address the gaps and further enhance our consumers digital lifestyle and the survey findings reveals the same. I am glad to see that our efforts are paying off as connectivity has been instrumental in ensuring equal opportunities for all. We hope the ongoing digitalization and innovation leads to a sustainable and better tomorrow.

The trends according to the study:

1. Swiping up for an always-on lifestyle

Almost all the respondents have said that they keep their phone with them for a significant period of the day with them, with one in five are never without their phone. However, around 71% of Bangladeshi respondents believe they strike a good balance on technology use. In Bangladesh, 91% of users use their phones for at least half of their day, with 20% of respondents always using their phones.
The acceleration in digital adoption from the past two years shows no sign of slowing down with 73% of Bangladeshis expecting to increase their mobile use in the next 12 – 24 months.

2. Bangladeshi respondents are most concerned about keeping up as digital life charges ahead

Across the region, 85% of respondents are worried about developing the necessary skills to keep up with technological changes. Bangladeshi respondents are the most concerned users, with a rate of 97%. Younger respondents are more concerned, with 68% Gen Z respondents and 69% millennials are among the most concerned.

3. (Lack of) trust in the digital world

There are also major concerns around the privacy and security of mobile devices across the region (97% of Bangaldeshi respondents). In Bangladesh, while Baby Boomers are the most likely to report significant improvements to quality of life from using their mobile phones (71%), they are also the most concerned about the privacy and security risks that come with this use (89%). This contrasts the regional findings where Gen Z and Millennial respondents were the most concerned for their privacy and security online.

4. The growing role of mobile in sustainable living

Sustainability is becoming a more pressing issue in this era. The study shows that people are optimistic about the potential of mobile technology to help them lead a more sustainable life. 74% of Bangladeshi respondents believe that digital access is very beneficial in leading a greener life. 69% of Bangladeshi respondents believe that the greatest benefits come in the areas of reducing paper, waste, and electricity and being able to communicate more efficiently (74%).

5. Mobile technology is closing the digital divide

The study has also pointed out the greater potential of mobile usage. Respondents believe that mobile connectivity can play a significant role in promoting inclusion – with mobile connectivity ensuring greater access to essential services such as education (64%) and healthcare services (55%) for people. Interestingly, we also found that more women than men find that mobile connectivity has enhanced their options for working and generating income as well as helping them achieve greater efficiency and productivity in daily life.

“As mobile connectivity becomes even more fundamental to our daily lives, lacking the right skills and awareness, including to navigate safety and privacy issues, or being off the grid can severely restrict access to education, healthcare, economic and employment opportunities. We need to better understand digital gaps, and how to bridge them, as well as the carbon footprint of our online habits, as we work together to create a future where mobile connectivity is empowering and sustainable for all.” Jørgen Rostrup, Head of Telenor Asia.

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