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LIRNEasia’s payphone study referred in life after Sandy

LIRNEasia has developed an innovative diary method to capture the usage patterns of phone among BOP users who don’t own any phone. Dubbed as “Teleuse@BOP3” we surveyed 9,750 sample representatives across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Thailand during Q4 of 2008.

Our researcher Nirmali Sivapragasam has authored, “The Future of the Public Phone: Findings from a six-country Asian study of telecom use at the BOP” in early 2010. Nirmali went for higher studies to Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University in Singapore. There, with a fellow student Juhee Kang, Nirmali further enriched her aforementioned study in 2011.

Fast forward to 2012. Sandy ravages around New York and Atlantic City.

Mobile base stations are among her primary victims. Many surviving base stations had died soon after the backup power exhausted. It has resulted the collapsing of 25% mobile networks. The DC power from central office, however, kept the wired telephone networks (POTS), including the payphones, alive. Like the survivors of Fukushima earthquake, the New Yorkers cued in the payphone booths. It has caught the attention of Asia’s respected telecoms journalist John Tanner.

That got me to wondering about the state of payphones in Asia. After all, even in developing markets, feature phones are cheap and prepaid plans affordable. How many young people in emerging countries have never used a payphone?

Then John refers to LIRNEasia study.

The data is decidedly outdated, as most recent figures come from 2008-2009, but in essence the paper found that payphone usage has indeed declined with the rise of mobile – even in markets where mobile hasn’t yet become saturated. One reason: people who may not own a mobile phone may know someone who does – family, friends, neighbors, etc.

John Tanner is so right. This is what he wrote.

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