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Telenor Asia study finds high usage of phones and generative AI

Thailand ranked as the second-most connected country in the region, with 86% of Thais spending at least half of the day on mobiles.

Thais continue to embrace mobile devices to manage the cost of living and increase revenue, while some are optimistic about generative artificial intelligence (AI), according to a Telenor Asia study.

People from Thailand also have less security concerns than those from other countries in South and Southeast Asia, noted the study.

Thais are upbeat on the use of mobile devices as they have one of the best mobile networks in the region and affordable prices, said Petter-Børre Furberg, executive vice-president and head of Telenor Asia, citing the company’s Digital Lives Decoded study.

The study tallied 8,087 respondents in August in eight markets in South and Southeast Asia, including 1,000 from Thailand.

Thailand was the top country in the region in terms of expected use of mobile phone service increasing the next 1-2 years, according to 83% of respondents, followed by 73% in Malaysia.

Thailand was the second-most connected country, measuring people who spend at least half of the day on mobile phones. Malaysia topped the list at 89% of respondents, followed by Thailand and the Philippines both at 86%.

More women than men in Thailand expect to significantly increase their mobile usage.

Thai businesses are embracing new technologies in the workplace, with 66% of respondents indicating the use of AI at work will increase in the next six months, the highest across Asia, noted the study.

In Europe, people are very concerned about AI use in the workplace, in particular data leakage, said Mr Furberg.

Amid an inflationary environment, Thais are also using their mobile devices to manage rising costs of living, noted the study.

Some 93% of Thai respondents use their phone for managing finances, and a majority use them to compare prices (74%), find the best deal (64%), or track spending (49%).

An overwhelming 93% use their mobile devices for banking or financial management weekly, and 55% are making investments online to create new revenue streams.

In terms of adoption of new technologies in the workplace, 22% of respondents expect the use of generative AI to significantly increase in the next six months, while 86% called for more training on this technology from employers.

“We see a shift with work becoming the primary driver for increasing mobile usage, as Thais seek new ways to improve work quality and performance, upskill and access additional revenue streams,” he said.

Facebook remains the most popular app to connect with others at 57%, as well as the platform most people turn to for news at 52%, noted the study.

There are early signs of change here, with nearly one in eight Thais aged 18 to 29 getting their news from TikTok, according to Telenor.

Nearly half of Thai respondents believe mobile use can help them get ahead at work, switch careers (37%), or set up their own business (31%), underpinning the enormous potential of mobile connectivity, said Telenor.

Thai businesses are embracing technological advancements, with 82% of respondents stating their organisation supports employees’ use of generative AI at the workplace.

Despite their love of mobile devices, Thais were the least concerned about privacy and security on their phone. They are an outlier from their regional peers for a second year running, with 21% of Thai respondents indicating they are not concerned about privacy and security, compared with a regional average of 8%, noted the study.

Online safety of the elderly (75%) and children (72%) was a concern among Thai respondents.

Thais know about online scams, fake news and cyberbullying, but they are more accepting of drawbacks in technology, said Mr Furberg.

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