Teleuse@BOP3 Archives


LIRNEasia has developed an innovative diary method to capture the usage patterns of phone among BOP users who don’t own any phone. Dubbed as “Teleuse@BOP3” we surveyed 9,750 sample representatives across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Thailand during Q4 of 2008. Our researcher Nirmali Sivapragasam has authored, “The Future of the Public Phone: Findings from a six-country Asian study of telecom use at the BOP” in early 2010. Nirmali went for higher studies to Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University in Singapore. There, with a fellow student Juhee Kang, Nirmali further enriched her aforementioned study in 2011.
Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, CEO of LIRNEasia, made a presentation entitled, “Equitable communication for all:  South Asia’s contribution“, at the recently concluded ITU-APT Foundation of India Annual Convention on “Equitable Communication for All” held on 22 March 2010 in New Delhi, India. The presentation used  findings on LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP study on rising mobile ownership levels as proof of success of South Asia’s Budget Telecom Network Model, followed by telecos in profitably catering to BOP markets. The presentation goes on to examine how a similar model can be applied to provision of Internet services as well. View the full presentation here.
Findings from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 study have been cited in the latest issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons magazine. The article discusses the vast potential mobile phones have for providing those on the lower-incomes or the bottom of the pyramid, access to the internet for the first time. Read the full article here. Excerpt below: According to ICT policy think tank LIRNEasia, the evidence shows that mobiles, not computers, have the best potential to deliver services to rural areas in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the world’s largest concentration of poor people. “This is the hardest case.
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia’s CEO, delivered a keynote address at the recently concluded South Asia Mobile Summit, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 21 – 22 October 2009. The two-day event was organized by the South Asia Mobile Forum, a consortium of telecom industry players in the SAARC region, with the aim of creating a platform for market, institutional and technological issues to be discussed and progress made. Rohan made a presentation on South Asia’s  Budget Telecom Network Model, that has been adopted by many regional telcos in providing voice services to the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), and how the same can be applied to broadband services as well. The presentation drew on findings from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP, telecom regulatory environment (TRE) and mobile benchmark studies. The full presentation can be downloaded here.
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia Chair and CEO, made the lead presentation on access to ICTs at an OECD/infoDev Workshop on the Internet Economy yesterday in Paris. The workshop, “Policy coherence in the application of information and communication technologies for development,” is currently underway. In his presentation, Dr Samarajiva described the new “Budget Telecom Network Model” developed in South Asia that is enabling mobile operators to serve low-income customers who yield very low ARPUs [Average Revenues per User] and discuss its extension to enable broadband use.  Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have offered the lowest total costs of mobile ownership since 2005-06 while still yielding adequate, though somewhat volatile, returns to ensure continued investment in network extension and new services.  LIRNEasia research shows that this has been made possible by business process innovations to reduce operating expenses, and the minimizing of transaction costs made possible by widespread prepaid use.
TVEAP (on behalf of LIRNEasia) videoed a series of interviews with teleusers to explore their usage patterns at the BOP. Below is an interview with eighteen-year-old Chamara Pahalawattage, a Sri Lankan school leaver, who does not have a steady job but that  hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for mobile phones he now uses his sixth phone in two years. This resident of Gonapola, western Sri Lanka, finds odd jobs at construction sites thanks to his phone. And after a hard day’s work, he unwinds listening to the radio, or swapping phone songs with friends. Click here to view other videos.
An interesting article in the Times of India, documents the varied use of missed calls among mobile phone users in India, based on LIRNEasia’s T@BOP3 findings for 2008.  Although the title of the article is slightly misleading (missed call use was, in fact, prevalent in all the countries studied;  see here for more information), it nevertheless brings home the point that missed calls are being regularly used to communicate messages of various kinds in different contexts.
In an informal interview with well-known journalist and blogger Frederick Noronha at the 3rd PAN ALL Partners’ Conference held in June, Rohan Samarajiva explains the importance of wireless technology, particularly for business-related purposes, based on T@BOP findings for 2008. He emphasizes that when comparing the effectiveness of different communication telephonies, one needs to go beyond measuring indicators of “volume” to that of “value”; furthermore, he emphasizes that within telephony itself, “one call is not the same as another call” (e.g. a call saying “I am here” cannot be compared to a call made to communicate an emergency).
LIRNEasia‘s recent research on ICT use and remittances among migrant workers was released in Dhaka on 28 June 2009. The study of over 1,500 domestic and overseas migrant workers in six Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka) has yielded some interesting insights in Bangladesh, with important policy implications. Demand for communication among Bangaldeshi migrants surveyed was particularly high compared to the other countries surveyed; a significant number of overseas migrants even used the Internet to call home. Bangladeshi migrants were sending home around half of their salaries on average, mostly through banks, and hand-carried in cash. Mobiles play a key role in coordinating remittances; a small number of overseas migrants were even sending money home through their mobiles.
An article, co-authored by Rohan Samarajiva and Payal Malik, has been published in India’s Financial Express. The article discusses findings from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 project. Read the full article here. Just five years ago, the Indian telecom industry=barely included the poor. The country had a teledensity of 7/100 people, but in rural India 100 people were served by only 1.
Teleuse@BOP3, LIRNEasia’s six country study has shown that between 2006 and 2008 there has been significant uptake of mobiles by the BOP in emerging Asia. Access to computers on the other hand (see here for numbers)  in these countries at the BOP is minimal.  Together with the increasing capabilities of mobiles to deliver an array of services, which essentially boil down to what you can do on the Internet (information publication and retrieval, transactions, etc) this means that much of the BOP will have their first Internet experience through a mobile. The current issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons quarterly magazine highlights LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 study findings from India, illustrating this point. Mobiles are now the most common form of communication, pushing public phones into second place… The rapid evolution of the mobile into a multi-purpose communications and knowledge tool combined with its fast adoption by the BOP, means they and the majority of people in the developing world are likely to have their first Internet experience via a mobile.
TVEAP (on behalf of LIRNEasia) videoed a series of interviews with teleusers to explore their usage patterns at the BOP. These videos are part of a larger study conducted by LIRNEasia on the use of ICTs at the BOP in six Asian countries. Below is one of seven interviews; more will be uploaded in the next few days.
Until recently, I believed, with Richard Heeks quoted below, that radio is found in more homes (at the BOP or all) than phones and TVs. Survey data from the BOP at three countries that account for the world’s greatest concentration of poor people (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) tell a story that contradicts the common wisdom. In India, 58% of BOP households have TVs, while only 32% have radios. And some kind of phone in the household? 45%!
Just five years ago, the Indian telecom industry’s massive momentum barely included the poor.  The country had slightly over seven access paths (fixed and mobile connections) per 100 people, but in rural India 100 people were served by only 1.5 access paths.  Even in urban India, the poor were unconnected. But now, the picture is different.

India’s urban-rural telecom gap?

Posted on March 9, 2009  /  0 Comments

An AFP story published today talks about the Indian boom in mobile connections, despite all round economic gloom: a record 15m new connections were added in India in January 2009 according to the article. India’s “mobile revolution” is still mainly seen in the cities, but the real prize for phone companies is the vast rural market, where nearly 70 percent of the 1.1-billion-strong population live, analysts say. By the end of January, 34.5 percent of the population owned a telephone, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said.
Findings from the Teleuse at the bottom of the pyramid (T@BOP3) will be released at a meeting organized with the leadership of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) on 10 February 2009. This will be followed by media interactions in Mumbai and Chennai. Ayesha Zainudeen, Harsha de Silva and Rohan Samarajiva will present at the events. Teleuse@BOP, pioneered by LIRNEasia in 2005, is a unique series of cutting edge demand-side studies on ICT use among the BOP. The 2008 study was conducted across six countries, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and most recently, Bangladesh, among a sample of 9500+ BOP (SEC D and E) users.