Last year, several LIRNEasia researchers were pleased to work with Nokia on explaining the reasons behind South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) being the only countries with a TCO [total cost of ownership] below USD 5/month, when the average for almost 80 countries studied was USD 13.15. According to the latest issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons magazine (p. 10), the TCO has come down further, to USD 10.88. The four South Asian countries in the achievers’ box [below USD 5 TCO] have been joined by eight others, suggesting that the Budget Telecom Network Model (p. 4) that we explicated as part of our explanation is spreading.
Unfortunately only the key headlines of the 2008 TCO study have been published, leaving us curious about the identity of the 12 countries with TCOs in the sub-USD 5 range. Hopefully, this information will also be published by the time our mobile benchmark results for February 2009 are released. We too use a basket methodology, but our baskets are based on actual use in South and Southeast Asia (while Nokia uses the European minutes of use and numners of SMS) and does not include the handset component. But the two studies tallied more or less last year and we hope that they will match this time too.