Aging Asia Getting Left Behind in Mobile Revolution: Telenor

While mobile internet continues to expand across Asia, a recent research by Telenor Group in four of its regional markets revealed that senior citizens are not fully receiving the benefits of connectivity.

The research note, “The unconnected senior citizens of Asia”, draws upon customer data from the Norwegian telecom firm’s four out of six markets in Asia: India, Thailand, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

The findings suggest that the senior segment in some of these markets represent as little as 2 percent of active mobile users, with still fewer using smartphones.

Sigve Brekke, executive vice president of Telenor Group, said, “… it is a source of concern for Telenor that senior citizens in our Asian markets are not fully receiving the benefits of the mobile internet.

“The internet can be a vital way of maintaining civic participation and even receiving basic citizen services in the near future, and thus the findings should be of interest to multiple stakeholders, from policy makers to corporations, families, and individuals. This is particularly true as several Asian societies anticipate increasingly aging populations …”

In India, a demographic breakdown from Telenor’s local business unit Uninor shows that only 10 percent of its 40 million subscribers are over 45 years of age. In Bangladesh, Telenor’s local subsidiary Grameenphone observes a distinct drop-off in the number of customers over the age of 55, with only 2 percent of the user base being over 60 years of age.

In Malaysia, Digi, Telenor’s local business unit, reports that only 3.9 percent of the local user base is over the age of 60. Thailand meanwhile presents an interesting picture in terms of a slightly expanded user base in the oldest demographics: DTAC reports a full 6 percent of users being over 60, although a mere 2 percent over 65.

Telenor’s newest Asian market, Myanmar, was left out of the research; so was Pakistan, where Telenor established operation in 2005.

“Myanmar was not included in the survey as when we ran the research Myanmar was in the early phase of operational rollout. As such any numbers we could offer would have been grossly inconclusive. Pakistan was another Telenor Asia business unit which was left out, for lack of veracity in the data sets,” Joachim Rajaram, VP – Head of Communications, Telenor Myanmar, told Myanmar Business Today.

“We regret that at present we do not have sufficient data on this segment to offer any valuable insight,” he added.

Rajaram said that in the immediate future there will be “no specific focus” on this segment in Myanmar.

“With more than 2,300 towers today, Telenor’s network in Myanmar now reaches more than 50 percent of populated coverage; we are in a very early phase of operational rollout here and are focusing our efforts on increasing our coverage footprint, and improving quality and capacity in areas where we are already present.”

Telenor’s mobile network in Myanmar now is available in 11 regions and states – Mandalay, Yangon, Sagaing, Bago, Magway, Ayeyarwaddy, Kayin, Mon, Kachin and Shan and Naypyitaw. Telenor said in the coming months, it will expand its network to Kayah and Tanintharyi.

Petter Furberg, chief executive officer of Telenor Myanmar, said, “Inclusion is a priority for Telenor Group … particularly here in Myanmar, where we are faced with the challenge of growing our coverage in a mobile green-field. As we work towards that goal we remain firmly committed to ensuring that people of all ages and across all segments of Myanmar society will benefit from the mobile internet.”

Source: Myanmar Business Today

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