SA Consumers Embrace Smarter Digital Life - Gadgets

SA Consumers Embrace Smarter Digital Life – Gadgets

According to a new global survey, six out of ten South African information workers are running shows from home.

The Cisco Broadband Survey finds that evolving consumer expectations will reshape the needs and economics of the Internet.

People are rethinking what they rely on the internet for, balancing the classic needs for speed and reliability, with growing demands for growing eco-awareness, secure cloud infrastructure, and the consumerization of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) that connect our devices, from smart cars to home appliances.

This led 78% of SA survey respondents, made up of information workers, to consider broadband as a critical national infrastructure. Additionally, 85% of those who work from home consider broadband to be a critical national infrastructure.

Other key connectivity findings include:

  • 63% of respondents use some form of mobile technology to connect to the internet at home, even using their own mobile phones or a 4G or 5G hub.
  • 28% said they connect to the internet via fiber optic broadband.
  • 3% described their internet connection speed at home as very fast, while 24% described their connection speed as average.

According to the survey, 87% of SA respondents now rely on their home internet to work from home or run a business, with six in ten now accessing work through a home connection. This represents a dramatic year-over-year increase of 20%, signaling the trend’s popularity in SA.

Against the backdrop of digital transformation and remote and hybrid work trends, broadband plays a critical role globally and impacts us both personally and professionally, says Smangele Nkosi, general manager, Cisco South Africa. Connectivity is related to factors such as reliability, security and even sustainability. In other words, the impact of broadband on us and the world we live in.

Rising costs affect connectivity

While broadband connectivity plays an important role in everyday life, there are concerns regarding affordability and accessibility, which continue to rank first in the face of national economic challenges.

According to the survey, 46% of respondents indicated that the rising cost of living had an impact on their broadband spending, with 26% switching to low-cost broadband and 20% canceling streaming subscriptions. Additionally, 26% said they couldn’t afford to upgrade to more reliable, fast and secure broadband, while 16% said they were finding it difficult to pay for it outright.

Through the findings of the Cisco Broadband Survey, we can better understand the country’s digital journey and better inform our efforts to transform it into an interconnected, technology-enabled and inclusive ecosystem, Nkosi says.

The carbon cost of broadband connectivity is a top priority for consumers. This supports a broader market trend, shown in a 2019 survey by Nielsen and a 2022 survey by Globescan, revealing widespread consumer awareness of the environmental impact of the products they use and a demand for companies to escalate and mitigate negative impacts on the planet.

However, only a few are knowledgeable enough about the subject to explain it to others. This illustrates the need and potential for broadband to act as a force for sustainability, enabling best practices such as hybrid working and e-commerce, which in turn help reduce carbon emissions.

Key sustainability achievements include:

  • When asked about the Internet’s carbon footprint, only 10% of respondents said they knew a lot and could explain it to others, while 37% had never heard of it (by comparison, only 14% of respondents in the UAE said they had never heard of it).
  • 25% of respondents who plan to upgrade their broadband service in the next 12 months cite the provision of sustainable or green broadband as a driving factor in their choice.
  • 34% of respondents said they would be willing to pay up to a 10% premium for the greenest broadband available in their country with a lower carbon footprint. Assuming the quality of connectivity was the same, 23% said they would be willing to pay up to a 20% premium.

If broadband is the driving force behind a thriving digital ecosystem, we need to consider how sustainable that broadband can be. Sustainability cannot be an afterthought. It can be a vehicle for positive socioeconomic and environmental change and requires us to be proactive in everything we do and set out to achieve. Consumers are starting to take notice and businesses should pay attention, Nkosi explained.

In parallel with growing environmental concerns, the emergence of hybrid working and the ever-increasing confusion between employees’ professional and personal lives brings new risks to the home. South Africans are looking for affordable, reliable and secure home internet packages and solutions. This is crucial if we are to benefit from the opportunities offered by remote working and grow the economy through digital technology.

Key findings related to Internet reliability and security include:

  • On average, SA workers would pay R287 more per month for more reliable, faster and more secure broadband.
  • 56% of respondents cited the promise of fast service as the most important factor when deciding on Internet service upgrades over the next 12 months, followed by high security (48%) and the promise of reliable service (45%).
  • 30% of respondents reported that they rely on a well-known brand to meet their broadband needs.
  • 70% of respondents said they rely on a password to protect their broadband. At the same time, a quarter use more comprehensive measures such as turning on firewalls on their wireless routers (27%), using a VPN (20%) or encrypting their network (26%).
  • Around three-quarters (76%) said they feel confident when using cloud-based services, with 33% saying they feel very confident.

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