We’re excited to share with you the second report in our series on the Impacts of Emerging Mobile Data Services in Developing Countries. The new brief — out today — provides the first large-scale empirical look at what mobile data services people are actually using, and what mobile users think of these services.
As the debate around zero-rated services (like Facebook’s Free Basics, Twitter Access, and Wikipedia Zero) and other emerging mobile data models continues, data around who is using these services, how, and why, has remained woefully scarce. The study, “Mobile Data Services: Exploring User Experiences & Perceived Benefits”, aims to fill that data gap, by presenting findings from a survey of 8,000 mobile Internet users across the eight countries covered in the series — Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, and the Philippines. The survey was conducted between November 2015 and February 2016 and found:
- Zero-rating did not bring most mobile Internet users online for the first time. Nearly nine in 10 users surveyed report having used the Internet before accessing it through a zero-rated plan. Numbers of people coming online for the first time via zero-rating were slightly higher in India (15%) and Peru (22%). About 10% of users said they had used zero-rating at least once.
- Public WiFi is the primary means of connection for one in five users. Most users surveyed (51%) use a full-cost data plan as their primary means of connecting to the Internet and public WiFi was the second most common method of connection (21%), particularly in countries like Peru (40%) and the Philippines (34%). Women are also more likely to use public WiFi.
- The vast majority of users (82%) prefer access to the full Internet with time or data limitations, if restrictions are imposed. Approximately half (48%) of all users said that the restriction they most preferred was a limitation on time (i.e., the free plan would be only be valid for a short time, with no restriction on the websites/apps that could be accessed), while a third of respondents said they would prefer access to all websites/apps, with a restriction on the amount of data that could be used.
Want more detail? Dive into the full report and survey dataset, and if you haven’t done so already, check out the first report in this research series for some background on the different mobile data services offered in each of the eight countries studied.
The survey findings presented here will inform the third and final paper in this series which will, based on consultations with governments, mobile network operators, and civil society organisations, propose a set of guidelines on how mobile data services can improve mobile broadband affordability. Stay tuned and, in the meanwhile, be sure to share your questions, comments and own experiences in the comments below.