As the industry gears up for the Mobile World Congress (MWC) this month, a new study released today by the Internet Society suggests that mobile may be everywhere but, contrary to the meeting’s slogan, it isn’t everything yet—at least not to everyone in Asia-Pacific.
The Mobile Internet Usage Trends in Asia-Pacific report, based on a survey of 1,620 Internet users from 37 economies in the region, found that younger people, specifically those below 25 years old, have a more diverse engagement with the mobile Internet – using it for activities that range from social networking and entertainment, to jobs and education. A similar trend was observed among respondents who are either mobile first, or have switched to mobile as their primary means of going online.
But overall, mobile Internet in Asia-Pacific continues to be predominantly used for information and communication, with more than three-quarters using it for email, web searches, social media, and voice and messaging apps. By contrast, less than half of survey respondents were using it for purposes that are more closely associated with socio-economic development, such as e-banking and government e-services.
Other usage patterns are correlated with age: Both prepaid subscription (77%) and app downloads were highest among those below 25 years old. Conversely, multiple device ownership, as well as postpaid plans peaked in popularity among respondents aged 45 years or older.
Mobile Internet is clearly becoming a familiar presence in people’s daily lives, with some 90% of survey participants going online through their mobile device everyday. Beyond the gadgets, respondents, especially those from emerging economies, have indicated a much stronger preference for Wi-Fi (72%), with a similar proportion stating that faster connection speeds (77%) and lower data costs (68%) would encourage them to use their mobile data connection. To date, just over a third of the population in Asia-Pacific use mobile networks to access the Internet.
This provides an opportunity to cultivate choice, through more targeted investments, policies and solutions to encourage not only increased coverage and affordability of mobile broadband, but also the development of other wireless platforms and technologies, whether it is community mesh networks or TV white space, by which existing and future users in Asia-Pacific can go online cheaply, reliably and securely.
Image credit: Nopphan Bunnag on Flickr. CC BY NC ND