Evidence for the mobile v telecenter debate

Posted on August 8, 2013  /  0 Comments

The effective dissemination of the University of Washington study on telecenters is creating a minor revival in telecenter enthusiasm.

We have not had opportunity to examine the Washington study in detail, but a first look surprised us since no LIRNEasia or Research ICT Africa was cited, despite South Africa being a focus country.

Observing heavy use of telecenters does not seem to be best evidence, since the alternatives must also be studied for the claim to be supported.

Coward and his team scoured the earth, working with local research teams and surveying more than 5,000 computer users in Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, Philippines and South Africa. What they found seems counter-intuitive.

“We saw large usership in every place we visited,” Coward says, of libraries, telecenters and cybercafes. Even in the United States, people are flocking to access the Internet through desktop computers in libraries in ever greater numbers.

For example, it would be necessary to examine whether mobile-device based use is increasing faster, as seems to be indicated by TRAI.

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