Emerging markets are leading global mobile growth. These markets contain the largest numbers of poor people. As such growth necessarily involves many at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP). Innovations in technology, business models and policy are required to serve the BOP efficiently; even more crucial is deep insight into the growing demand for telecom services at the BOP.
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. The studies have proved useful in making government understand the significance of telecom, especially the mobile, at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Its findings have contributed to debates universal service policies, on taxation and even on registration of phones for security purposes. The results have also been used by industry to better understand, and design products and services for, the BOP. The wide media attention received in multiple countries in multiple languages is evidence of the relevance and need for such research in the industry. LIRNEasia has built a brand name in demand-side telecom research, developing a wealth of knowledge and expertise in this area.
Teleuse@BOP1 (2005) highlighted the degree of phone sharing at the BOP, revealing potential for innovative forms of shared access.
Teleuse@BOP2 (2006) uncovered that many at the BOP were now in a position to take up ownership, especially mobile ownership, with a projected 140 million declaring intent of phone-ownership by mid-2008. Eighty three million of this was from India alone, potentially taking household phone access up to 50 percent.
Teleuse@BOP3 (2008-09) focused on if and how mobile phones are being used for non-voice, or ‘Mobile2.0’ applications. Many claim that the BOP will have their first internet experience via a mobile phone; the findings indicated that although the use of Mobile2.0 services has been poor, encouraging levels of awareness have been seen, especially in countries with higher penetration levels, indicating that as penetration grows, awareness is likely to grow.
Teleuse@BOP4 (2011) focused on the use of mobile phones for value-generation at the BOP, against the backdrop of an emerging knowledge-based economy.
In 2012 LIRNEasia conducted a study which moved its demand side research beyond the teleuse perspective to look at how the BOP access and use public services specifically through telecenters and mobiles. The study, Delivering public services to the BOP was conducted for the World Bank.
As a part of Teleuse@BOP3 and Teleuse@BOP4 teleuser profiles were captured on film, exploring different aspects of the teleuse experience at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), ranging from productive use, to entertainment, to sending remittances home.
Click here to view T@BOP3 videos.
Click here to view T@BOP4 videos.
Publications and reports
Teleuse@BOP4 – Draft versions
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)
Special issue on the Information Technology and International Development (ITID) Journal, Vol 7, Issue 3 – Fall 2011 (Special Issue: Mobile Telephony Special Issue)
Mobile at the bottom of the pyramid: Informing policy from the demand side (Guest editor’s introduction) | Rohan Samarajiva | Information Technology and International Development, 7(3) Mobile Telephony Special Issue, iii–vii.
Social Influence in Mobile Phone Adoption: Evidence from the Bottom of the Pyramid in Emerging Asia | Harsha de Silva, Dimuthu Ratnadiwakara, Ayesha Zainudeen | Information Technology and International Development, 7(3) Mobile Telephony Special Issue, 1-18.
Bottom of the Pyramid Expenditure Patterns on Mobile Services in Selected Emerging Asian Countries | Aileen Agüero, Harsha de Silva, Juhee Kang| Information Technology and International Development, 7(3) Mobile Telephony Special Issue, 19-32.
The Future of the Public Payphone: Findings from a Study on Telecom Use at the Bottom of the Pyramid in South and Southeast Asia | Nirmali Sivapragasam, Juhee Kang | Information Technology and International Development, 7(3) Mobile Telephony Special Issue, 33-44.
Are the Poor Stuck in Voice? Conditions for Adoption of More-Than-Voice Mobile Services | Ayesha Zainudeen, Dimuthu Ratnadiwakara | Information Technology and International Development, 7(3) Mobile Telephony Special Issue, 45-59.
CellBazaar: Enabling M-Commerce in Bangladesh | Ayesha Zainudeen, Rohan Samarajiva, Nirmali Sivapragasam| Information Technology and International Development, 7(3) Mobile Telephony Special Issue, 61-76.
A research agenda for applying Mobile 2.0 solutions for base-of-the-pyramid user communities | Tim Kelly (PhD, Lead ICT Policy Specialist, infoDev, World Bank)
The potential of mobile remittances for the bottom of the pyramid: Findings from emerging Asia (version 1.9) | Nirmali Sivapragasam (LIRNEasia), Aileen Agüero (DIRSI) and Harsha de Silva (LIRNEasia) [Nirmali Sivapragasam, Aileen Agüero, Harsha de Silva, (2011) "The potential of mobile remittances for the bottom of the pyramid: findings from emerging Asia", info, Vol. 13 Iss: 3, pp.91 - 109]
How the developing world may participate in the global Internet economy: Innovation driven by competition | Rohan Samarajiva, PhD (LIRNEasia) (presented at OECD/infoDeve Workshop on the Internet Economy: Policy coherence in the application of informaiton and communication technologies for development, September 2009, Paris)
The price sensitivity of mobile use among low income households in six countries of Asia | Sangamitra Ramachander (Department of International Development, University of Oxford)
Mobile 2.0: m-money for the BOP in the Philippines | Erwin Alampay (PhD, National College of Public Administration and Governance in the University of the Philippines, LIRNEasia) and Gemma Bala (a part of the Mobile2.0 study)
Poverty reduction through telecom access at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ – Harsha de Silva & Ayesha Zainudeen (March 2007. Paper prepared for Centre for Poverty Analysis Annual Symposium on Poverty Research in Sri Lanka 6-7 December 2007, Colombo | Presentation slides also available for download
Teleuse on a Shoestring: Beyond Universal Access . Presented at Communication Policy Research: South (CPRsouth), Research for Improving ICT governance in the Asia-Pacific, 19-21 January 2007, Manila, Philippines | Presentation slides also available for download
Teleuse at the bottom of the pyramid: Findings from a five country study . Background paper prepared for ‘3rd Global Knowledge Conference’, Kuala Lumpur, 11-13 December 2007.
Non-owner teleusers at the BOP: Removing the barriers to ownership . Presented at PTC’08: Telecom with Vision, 13-16 January 2008, Honolulu, USA | Presentation slides also available for download
Who’s got the phone? Gender and the use of the telephone at the bottom of the pyramid (pre-publication). Also presented at 2008 International Communications Association conference, 26 May 2008 Montreal, Canada
In R. Samarajiva and A. Zainudeen (Eds.), 2008, ICT infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks. New Delhi & Ottawa: SAGE & IDRC :
What do users at Bottom of the Pyramid want? By A. Zainudeen
Strategies on a shoestring. By A. Zainudeen and T. Iqbal
I just called to say . . . Teleuse under a ceasefire. By R. Samarajiva, M. Hameed and A. Zainudeen
In W.H. Melody and A. Mahan (Eds.), 2007, Diversifying Participation in Network Development: Case studies and research from WDR Research Cycle 3 (73-87) . Montevideo: LIRNE.NET:
An Investigation of the Replicability of a Microfinance Approach for Extending Telecom Access to Marginal Customers. By M. Knight-John, A.Zainudeen and A.S. Khan
TelecomUse on a Shoestring: Expenditure and perceptions of affordability amongst the financially constrained. By A. Moonesinghe, H. de Silva, N. Silva & A. Abeysuriya
Telecom use on a Shoestring: Strategic use of telecom services by the financially constrained in South Asia | Version 2.1 can be downloaded in PDF, HERE .
Telecom use on a Shoestring: Expenditure and perceptions of costs amongst the financially constrained | Version 2.2 can ve downloaded in PDF HERE .
Bangladesh meta-analysis| Version 2.0 can be downloaded in PDF, HERE .