LIRNEasia Lead Economist, Dr. Harsha de Silva presented findings of a new study on telecom use at the bottom of the pyramid in five emerging Asian countries at the well attended ESOMAR global market research conference, Telecom 2006: Convergence Revolution held in Barcelona from 29 November – 1 December 2006. The study covers India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Thailand.
de Silva presented some findings contained in a paper written with LIRNEasia researcher Ayesha Zainudeen on the costs and benefits of access to telecoms and the expected next billion subscribers. A particular finding of interest to local policy makers was that almost a quarter of Sri Lankans at the bottom of the pyramid believe that direct access to a phone (i.e., through ownership of one) in fact worsens their financial situation; this is in stark contrast to the findings in the other four countries. According to de Silva a key reason for this could be the island’s Receiving Party Pays tariff policy. The presentation provided several recommendations to global telecom operators and handset manufacturers on how to develop business models that could result in win-win situations for both private enterprises and the poor based on what Indian management guru C K Prahlad’s work on the ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.’
The study was conducted in mid-2006 and will be formally launched in Mumbai in January 2007 at GSM>3G India, a prestigious conference which will attract leaders in the mobile industry. The field work for the study was carried out by AC Nielsen Lanka and their affiliates in each respective country.
ESOMAR is the world organization for enabling better research into markets, consumers and societies. With 4000 members in 100 countries, ESOMAR aims to promote the value of market and opinion research in illuminating real issues and bringing about effective decision-making.