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Poll: 5G adoption still low in Taiwan; misinformation, digital divide are concerns

Poll: 5G adoption still low in Taiwan; misinformation, digital divide are concerns
The survey, conducted by the Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC), was released in a news conference in Taipei on July 20.
A survey on Taiwan’s Internet usage finds that 5G adoption rate has yet to increase on the island; spread of misinformation/fake news and digital divide among seniors are also concerns that need to be addressed.
 
The survey, conducted by the Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC), was released in a news conference in Taipei on July 20.

"We conduct the survey every year. At first the study focused on distribution of Internet resources. But overtime it has evolved into a study on user habit – for example how people get online, what tools do they use, and how people are impacted by the ever-changing nature of the Internet,” said Kenny Huang, MD and CEO of TWNIC.
 
Among the basic findings, Taiwan’s Internet penetration rate is 84.3 percent, fixed Internet penetration rate 65.32 percent and mobile Internet penetration rate 81.47 percent.
 
In terms of social media and messaging services, Facebook and Line, respectively, account for the lion’s share in usage at 61.22 percent and 94.48 percent among those who use Internet. For social media usage, Facebook is followed by Instagram (17.17 percent) and Tiktok (2.19 percent).
 
The survey also finds a 5G growth rate of 16.71 percent over the past two years in Taiwan. Despite that, 5G penetration rate stood at less than 20 percent – at 18.98 percent – even though Taiwan’s major telecom operators such as Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone have all rolled out 5G service.
 
Among those who expressed willingness to get 5G are males, under 39 and with college/graduate degrees, the survey finds.
 
For those who haven’t yet gotten 5G and lacked willingness to do so, the reasons cited by them are: 3G/4G is enough, 48.12 percent; current contract hasn’t expired, 8.56 percent; too expensive, 21.98 percent; coverage areas too few, 13.31 percent.
 
5G stands for fifth-generation telecom service. Download speed can theoretically reach 20Gbps, which is more than sufficient for common Internet activities such as texting messages, posting to social media and streaming video. The key to 5G usage increase lies in new and innovative applications, including smart transportation, autonomous vehicles, Internet of vehicles and smart factory, among others.
 
The survey further explores Internet usage from the perspectives of usage ethics and equality. The findings show certain troubling trends that should be addressed.
 
Among the findings, 77.65 Internet users believe postings and messages on the Internet create tensions and divisiveness. 29.09 percent say information they receive are the ones that align with their own beliefs/preferences/opinions.
 
Nearly 60 percent believe it’s important to share information that’s true, while 13.76 percent say it’s not important at all. 45.11 percent think it’s important to share information that aligns with their own beliefs/opinions/agenda. This, then, can give rise to ill-intentioned users spreading fake news and misinformation to achieve specific goals.
 
The study also explores the digital divide phenomenon. In the past, digital divide is more obvious at the regional level (urban vs. remote areas), but now it’s more obvious by age. The study shows by age, Internet penetrate rate is 99 percent among those below 39, and a mere 31.91 percent among those 70 years of age and above.
 
Among those not using the Internet, the reasons cited by them include no need, too old, no equipment, and no interest. Also among them, 93.71 percent say they are not willing to learn how to use the Internet, while 55.43 percent say they receive no assistance from anyone to help them get online.

A roundtable discussion was held after the survey's release, with panelists exploring possible solutions.

Wu Chi-yin, Researcher with Academic Sinica, expressed concerns about the troubling trends shown in the report. “Internet and related digitization are meant to promote societal trust, the force that enables normal function of the society. Yet fake news and misinformation have eroded this societal trust,” he said.
 
Lin Xin-wu, VP of Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, echoed Wu’s remarks. “Internet and digitization are meant to unite more people and build consensus. Misinformation is a barrier to social progress,” he said.
 
Wang Wei-ching, Commissioner of National Communications Commission, meanwhile expressed more optimism. “According to our own research, 60.8 percent of netizens say they have doubts on the veracity of information they see on the net, and 56.3 percent actually do something about it – verify it on their own or report it to authorities. This is a good trend,” she said.
 
Hu Yuan-hui, Chairman of Taiwan Public Television Service Foundation, said rectifying the situation requires efforts from all stakeholders. “Everyone must play a role: The government should regulate while making sure freedom of speech is protected; citizen groups should properly monitor; and industry players should have guidelines on how to provide service responsibly,”  he said.

Xu Wen-wei, Director at Ministry of Education, meanwhile said more is required to fill digital divide. “We stress ‘usage’ a lot. But other than mere usage, government and private efforts are needed to promote innovative contents and applications,” he said.


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