LIRNEasia’s Lead Economist presented the findings on the percieved benefits of telecom access at the bottom of the pyramid at ‘The Global and Globalizing Dimensions of Mobile Communication: Developing or Developed‘ a pre-conference program at the ICA 2008 conference in Montreal on 20-21 May 2008. The paper presented, ‘Perceived economic benefits of telecom access at the Bottom of the Pyramid in emerging Asia‘ takes a look at what BOP phone owners gain from telecom access from their own perspective. One of the most interesting findings here, is that although they see efficiency gains stemming from phone access/use, they don’t relate these to economic gains. This is puzzling, because we know from macro-level studies that a positive relationship exists between phone penetration and national income; additionally, theory suggests that for example saving time or a physical trip to convey a message or obtain information, can translate to economic savings. However, there seems to be some kind of ‘disconnect’ in BOP perceptions of the value of a phone.
Missed calling (also referred to as beeping, flashing and many other names) has been most talked about in Africa; Johnathan Donner has been talking and writing about it for some time now; his research provides interesting insights into what he calls the ‘rules’ of beeping. A recent Reuters article looks at the growing phenomenon in not only Africa but other regions too. LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP survey findings also show that the phenomenon is considerably common among bottom of the pyramid (defined here as Socioeconomic Classification groups D & E) phone users in India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. But what’s more interesting, is that the phenomenon was seen as being used more or less to the same extent in the ‘middle and top of the pyramid’ (defined in the study as Socioeconomic Classification groups A, B & C). This held true for phone owners in all five countries studied – Pakistan, India (with some of the lowest per minute call rates in the world), Sri Lanka, Philippines and even Thailand (the country with the highest per capita GDP among the set of countries studied).