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Lack of Local Content Remains The Key Barrier To Mobile Internet Adoption

Lack of awareness and local content remains the key reason why people don’t use mobile internet in emerging markets, according to a survey conducted in six countries in Asia from GSMA. Local content denotes content that is in the local language and relevant to the local context and uses local sources, stories and more.

72% of those surveyed said they were not using mobile internet because of the lack of relevant local content and awareness regarding the internet usage. The survey includes data from six markets in the region: China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

With nearly 62% of the region’s population using mobile services, Asia is the biggest and fastest growing mobile market in the world. The mobile market in the region is nearly 2.5 billion. However, mobile internet adoption remains slow and lackluster in the region. While 62% of the region’s population use mobile services, only 45% of the entire Asian population are actively using internet via mobile which leaves a huge population outside mobile internet.

Similarly, Bangladesh has experienced a tremendous growth in smartphone penetration in recent years. Mobile internet users also doubled in the last two years: it shot up from 30.48 million in 2013 to 58.31 million in February 2016 [according to BTRC].

Despite the growth, mobile internet penetration and usage are largely defined by the use of social networking sites. For the most users in Bangladesh, internet has become synonymous to social networking sites due to the lack of local content.

Major telecom brands, like Robi and GP, are investing in developing local content. Besides, there is a host of local websites and content sources but these are not enough. To attract next wave of internet users we need to give them relevant local content and also aware them about the usage of internet.

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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