Jan Chipchase on Myanmar: Connectivity is not binary. The network is never neutral.


Posted by on November 21, 2014  /  1 Comments

A short piece by Jan Chipchase on how mobile use is playing out in Myanmar. He highlights some interesting observations about mobile use in Myanmar, as well as the realities of conducting research in the outer parts of the country. Here he highlights the cost of power as a mediating factor in mobile use.

In Bogale 2,500 Kyats ($2.5) will buy you a rechargeable battery that can power a home for two short nights. 40,000 Kyats ($40) will buy a new car battery, that can last for a month. In places with no or unstable electricity the spread mobile phones creates informal markets for power but it’s not cheap. “I won’t use my smartphone to watch videos if I know there is no electricity — it costs too much.” Ten dollars a month spent on power is out of the price range for a farmer earning $1.5 a day (yes solar is becoming more prevalent, but its not quite ready for this demographic). Here the cost of watching a movie on a smartphone, a use case that is prevalent elsewhere, is not measured by the cost of obtaining content but by the cost of replacing the power required to view that content.

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