LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid 4 (Teleuse@BOP4)

Teleuse at the bottom of the pyramid, or Teleuse@BOP, pioneered by LIRNEasia in 2005, is a unique series of cutting edge demand-side studies on ICT use among the BOP. It was one of the first large regional studies to assess demand for ICT services among emerging Asia’s BOP in a systematic way.

Teleuse@BOP4 :The 2011 study was conducted in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and most recently, Java (Indonesia), focuses on if and how mobile phones are being used for productive purposes, especially within the agriculture sector.
The study also contains a module on the knowledge and information needs as well as ICT use in the agriculture sector in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Telephone use was perceived to provide a much higher benefit in providing a sense of security in terms of acting in an emergency and in maintaining social relationships than benefiting financially though the potential for greater income earning ability and saving costs at the BOP and this seems to be continuing trend even in 2011. The studies have consistently shown the phone being used primarily for social purposes, with more “utilitarian” uses (such as use for business, financial or work-related) being secondary. The most recent findings show however that there is a segment of the BOP which uses the phone for utilitarian purposes on a daily basis.

From 2008 the studies also tried to assess the awareness and use of “more-than-voice” applications and services, such as m-payments, m-health, m-gov applications and information (livelihood-related, entertainment, etc) services. More awareness of more-than-voices services was expected since they offer a way for the BOP to access information and services with lower transaction costs. Awareness was relatively higher in entertainment-related information services than in other categories. The most recent data showed no significant change in overall awareness between 2008 and 2011, and very low (almost zero) usage figures whilst use of more-than-voices services seems to have declined from 2008.

The biggest barrier to more-than-voice usage, among those who are already aware of such applications and services appears to be a lack of know-how on how to use the services, as well as the perception that such services and applications are not relevant to them.  This suggests that awareness is still only at a surface level, and detailed knowledge of the services and applications does not exist yet.

This work is being carried out by with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre (Ottawa, Canada) and UKaid from the Department for International Development of the UK (DFID).


Detailed notes on the sampling methodology is available here.

The datasets* for the study can be downloaded here.

*The use of this dataset is subject  to the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial Share-Alike License 2.5 (


Other Downloads: Presentations and briefs | Please note: The data and findings of this study may not be used in legal proceedings

Teleuse@BOP4: Preliminary findings for Sri Lanka, Presentation made at T@BOP4;How those at the bottom of the pyramid use mobiles, 23 November 2011, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Teleuse@BOP4: Preliminary findings; Presentation made at the CPRsouth conference, 9 December 2011, Bangkok, Thailand.

How the poor use ICTs: Findings from multi- country studies of Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid; Presentation made at the Regional FAO Workshop on the use of Mobile Technologies in Agriculture, 3 April 2012, Bangkok, Thailand


Journal publications

Maity, Moutusy (2014), “Mobile phone users from low socioeconomic strata in Asia: The moderating roles of age and gender” International Journal of Technology Management and Sustainable Development, 13(2), 177-200. 


Research Reports and papers

Smallholders and agricultural micro-enterprises in Agriculture: information needs and communication patterns | Executive summary | Report (1.9Mb) |

Texting among the Bottom of the Pyramid- Facilitators and Barriers to SMS Use among the Low-income Mobile Users in Asia | Juhee Kang (Michigan State University), Moutusi Maity (Indian Institute of Management Lucknow)

The Role of Work-Related Information in the Intention to Continue Using Mobile Telecommunication: Users at the BOP | Moutusi Maity (Indian Institute of Management Lucknow)

Possibilities for the Use of Mobile Phones and More-than-voice Services to Improve the Economic Status of Female-headed Households at the BOP | Harsha de Silva (LIRNEasia), Koliya Pulasinghe (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology) and Lilanka Panditha (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology)

Can voice service alone uplift BOP | Harsha de Silva (LIRNEasia), Kushlan Hansa Deva Perera (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology)

Teleuse@BOP4: A qualitative study | Report by  CKS Consulting Pvt. Ltd. (2012).

Executive summary and Introduction to the Study: Understanding Teleuse and Livelihood (chapter 1), The Mobile Journey: Adoption Narratives (chapter 2 ), Usage Behaviors and Communication Patterns (chapter 3), Leveraging Livelihood Opportunities (chapter 4), Productivity in Agronomic Systems (chapter 5)

Innovation brief – Knowledge and information seeking through the mobile phone for livelihood benefits

Innovation brief -Socioeconomic benefits of mobiles for BOP women

Innovation brief – Helping BOP micro-entrepreneurs to do business through mobiles



As a part of Teleuse@BOP4 four teleuser profiles were captured on film, exploring predominantly the productive use of mobile phones. Click here to view videos.

Selected media coverage

Phones a bare essential for bottom of pyramid: Study, The Financial Express, 15 December 2011

More poor people own mobile phones but productive use still a far cry, The Hindu Business Line, 19 December 2011

Productive use of mobiles needed – LIRNEasia survey, The Bottom Line, 25 December 2011

How the poor use cell-phones, The Nation, 14 January 2012

Mobile Momentum: Sri Lanka phone use to overtake TV, radio, Lanka Business Line, 5 April 2012


Research Mailing List

Enter your email for research updates:


Flickr Photos