Mobile Opportunities: poverty and telephony access in Latin America and the Caribbean

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2 Mobile Opportunities: poverty and telephony access in Latin America and the Caribbean The case of Jamaica Hopeton S. Dunn, PhD Academic Director Telecommunications Policy and Management Programme Mona School of Business, The University of the West Indies September 2007 This work was carried out with the financial support from a grant given to the IEP from the International Development Research Center, Ottawa, Canada.

3 DIRSI - Diálogo Regional sobre Sociedad de la Información MOBILE OPPORTUNITIES: POVERTY AND ACCESS TO TELEPHONY IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN. THE CASE OF JAMAICA 2007 DUNN, HOPETON S. Mobile opportunities: poverty and telephony access in Latin America and the Caribbean. The case of Jamaica. Lima, Dirsi, p. il. TELEPHONY; TELECOMMUNICATIONS; LATIN AMERICA; CARIBBEAN This document is under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To see a copy of this license clic here

4 Table of Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 2 High Penetration Levels 2 Cost-saving and Text Messaging 3 Usage and Cost Elasticities 4 Non-Users 5 Study Conclusions 5 1. INTRODUCTION Jamaica, Poverty and Telephony Environment 7 2. MAJOR FINDINGS Mobile User Profiles Users vs. Owners Acquisition Patterns Prepaid vs. Postpaid Mobile Telephony: Usage Patterns NON-USAGE FIXED LINE USAGE Fixed telephony INTERNET USAGE CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS 27 REFERENCES 29 APPENDICES 30 Appendix 1: Fieldwork Notes 30 Appendix 2: Profile of the Sample 31 Appendix 3: Methodology 32 Appendix 4: Jamaica Poverty Map 34 1

5 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This Country Report indicates the results of a national household survey of mobile telephony usage patterns and explores the extent and methods of usage, among respondents from low-income communities in all parishes of Jamaica. The 1,182 respondents who made up the sample were selected using established Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) criteria, and drawn mainly from among those who are considered poor or in poverty, on the basis of a combination of income, occupation and location variables. An extensive, internationally tested and locally adapted questionnaire was administered nationally, seeking responses to over 100 question options. This report summarizes the results of this quantitative survey and seeks to understand how mobile phones have affected the lives of individuals of the lowincome earning groups and others. It further explores how mobile telecommunications can be tailored to offer pro-poor options in education, health, employment and social networking to such individuals. High Penetration Levels The data from the study indicate that mobile phones are a pervasive, constant, and longstanding feature in the lives of the majority of respondents in Jamaica, from all age groups and both genders. An analysis of the results indicates that 93.8% of Jamaican respondents had used a mobile phone in the last three months, and that 95.5% of users owned a mobile phone. Most respondents who possessed a mobile phone indicated they bought the device, whereas some indicated they received their cell phone as a gift. Most respondents indicated they were on pre-payment plans available through all mobile services providers. In this regard low income earning groups indicated that they recharged their call balances every one to two days, with the average amount ranging from US$ 1.91 to US$ in recharge cards. Social networking constituted the bulk of all communication received and made by respondents, and was a first priority for most respondents, while a lower percentage 1 US $1.00 = JM$

6 indicated that calling their workplaces and calls made in cases of emergencies were a second priority for their mobile telephone use. Against the background of these networking statistics, it is interesting to note data such as call volume. The modal value or most frequently occurring number of calls received by respondents within the last seven days was 20, while there was a mean or average of calls. 18.8% of respondents indicated however that they do not know how many calls they placed over the last thirty days. The breakdown of calls received showed that, for most respondents, calls from friends were of a higher priority than even those calls originating from relatives residing in the country (Jamaica), or from employers. Cost-saving and Text Messaging Text Messaging is popular among the respondents and a large percentage indicated they had sent or received a text message because they perceive that it is cheaper than calls. Those who did not send or receive a text message gave a number of reasons for this, such as, they do not know how to use the feature, mobile handsets lacked the text messaging function, or text messaging was not convenient. While text messaging usage when correlated with other socio-economic data could indicate levels of literacy, even those with limited literacy are often able to manage with the basics of text messaging. Thus, a range of multi-media features on mobile handsets allows access to these individuals by virtue of a plurality of literacy levels, as distinct from functional literacy. Various methods are employed by respondents to cut mobile telephone costs as a means of keeping their call balances for longer periods. A large percentage employed the missed calls/beeping method, where they initiate and drop the call before the person answers the phone, thereby prompting the other party to return the call. Other individuals prefer to send text messages as opposed to making calls while a small percentage indicated they are content with renting a mobile phone off the street. It is evident from the data that respondents tended to make more calls compared to sending text messages. Notwithstanding, a significant percentage of the respondents indicated 3

7 that they used the text messaging feature on their phones, which further indicates that functional literacy might be at an above average level among respondents. In terms of signal quality, a majority of respondents indicated that they were pleased by the signal quality of their respective service provider. The data further suggest a strong loyalty among respondents, where 22.4% indicated they would not switch if another company offered lower rates, while another 9.4% indicated they might not switch. The elasticities regarding changes in costs of mobile telephone usage and incomes are also very important to highlight. The study found that 22.4% of the respondents were price inelastic, which means that users indicated that mobile phone usage would not change proportionally to the change in mobile phone cost, such as a doubling of costs or a percentage decrease in costs. This is significant for a sample that was predominantly low income. Usage and Cost Elasticities In terms of income elasticities, 57.3% of the respondents indicated that they would not change their phone usage if their incomes doubled, compared to 26.1% which indicated they would not change their phone usage if their incomes came down by half, whereas 22.1% indicated they would reduce their phone usage. In economic terms, demand for mobile services seems to be very inelastic: a condition where price changes in a good does not induce a concomitant increase or decrease in demand or consumption for the good. Since a large percentage of the respondents are mobile phone users, the survey sought to ascertain in what ways mobile telephony affected their lives. The findings suggest that mobile telephony has been used extensively in social networking with friends, families and colleagues and similarly a large percentage indicated that they were able to better deal with family emergencies. Some indicated that the mobile phone has been integrated into their professional activities to improve productivity, whereas, some respondents indicated they thought a mobile phone could help them a lot or in some degree in their business activities. The study also found that individuals thought mobile phones could help in finding better job or business opportunities and importantly, that communication with colleagues improved as a result of mobile phones. 4

8 Non-Users Those individuals in the study who did not have a mobile phone had two main reasons: they could not afford it or they did not think it is necessary to have a mobile phone. Complements to mobile telephony have been included in the study on the basis that these may influence how people use their mobile phones. The study indicated that 31.2% of the respondents have a landline connection; it was further found that landlines are used for some of the same reasons for which people use mobile phones, including the top priority of calling friends. Those who did not have a fixed telephone line gave a variety of reasons for not having such a connection, chief of which is that it is too expensive for them and another significant percentage indicated they did not see a need for them to have their own fixed line phone. The Internet is also considered a complement to mobile telephony and the study investigated the prevalence of the Internet among the respondents. It was found that only a small percentage of the respondents accessed and used the Internet. The respondents who accessed the Internet did so for many reasons, but primarily for research and schoolwork. Study Conclusions Having highlighted the critical findings from the quantitative study, several conclusions have been reached as well as an examination of possible policy implications. The data suggest cell phones are widely used as a tool for social networking and the opportunity exists to build on the ubiquity to market it into a business and educational tool. It is important to note that the degree of pre-paid mobile phone usage is at a very high level despite the low income socio-economic status of most respondents, and therefore augurs well for the educational and employment opportunities that can be generated. It is self evident that the widespread nature of the mobile telephone is a major factor behind the upsurge in social networking. However, it is also argued that there are serious implications of this surge for the more traditional face-to-face communication. While the mobile phone has erased the distance barrier to communications, it may also 5

9 be contributing to less direct inter-personal communication and personal visiting. This may contribute to social handicaps and even impairment of normal writing skills when non-sms written communication or face to face dialogue become necessary in such situations as business, school, and conferences. Other arguments on mobile telephony are more optimistic. Some suggest mobile telephony may have the capability to strengthen layers of peripheral social relations, and in this regard, creative ideas should be pursued on how to use this form of communication to strengthen relations with external communities such as rural/urban relatives and the Diaspora, and can lead to such material benefits as money transfers through the mobile phone. The study also argues in the conclusion that policy-makers must urgently take advantage of the convergence of mobile telephony and the Internet, in the form of mobile broadband. Innovative ideas must be developed to ensure that the demonstrably pervasive nature of the cellular phone is used to help increase access to and popularize the less widely accessible Internet, thereby linking people s main communication tool with the single largest global source of information. This is especially important for members of the disadvantaged social groups who would not otherwise have an opportunity to use online data sources, engage in e-government and even to advance their academic qualifications. 6

10 1. INTRODUCTION Jamaica is the largest of the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean, with a population of 2.6 million (2005). It is a member country of Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) whose regional population is just over 5 million. In 2006 Jamaica s household poverty rate was 10.3%, with the country s GDP per capita income at US$4,200 in GDP was estimated at US$9.7 billion, with a real GDP growth rate of 1.4% in Inflation was at 12.9% in the same year, while the official unemployment indicator stood at 11.3%, with self employment accounting for just over a third of the employed labour force. In 2004 literacy levels were estimated to be 79.9%, suggesting that close to 20% of the population are semi-literate or illiterate. It is against this socio-economic background that the findings of national household survey on mobile telephony in Jamaica must be understood. The Jamaica study was conducted in July and August 2007 and forms part of a 7-country Caribbean and Latin American research project. The Project was designed to explore opportunities created by access to mobile phones for social and economic development and to document mobile telephone usage, especially among communities in poverty. Other countries forming part of the regional survey include Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Columbia, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. The regional study was co-ordinated by the research network DIRSI and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. The Jamaican research team was led by Hopeton Dunn, Head of the Telecommunications Policy centre of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, and included team members Richardo Williams, Allison Brown and Paul Martin, with fieldwork services provided by Market Research Services Limited (MRSL) Jamaica, Poverty and Telephony Environment Poverty and mobile telephony are interrelated particularly in the bottom of the pyramid social classes. Preliminary results from the DIRSI survey conducted in Jamaica, suggest a dynamic interplay between telephony features and the economic, social and socio-economic variables at work in the country. However, before discussing the survey methods and outcome, it is worthwhile to establish a definition of poverty. The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) indicated that persons are categorized as in 7

11 poverty when they live below the poverty line which means they earn less than JA$63, per year (or about US$937.02). An average family of five (two adults and three children) is considered poor if accumulated earnings are below JA$240, per year (or US$3,541.42). These indicators are based on consumption patterns annually rather than total income, which tends to be difficult to obtain. The UNDP approaches poverty from a more diverse and subjective perspective. According to the UNDP more than one-fifth of the world s population live in extreme poverty, which they see as multi-dimensional, affecting not only income but also security, empowerment and access to basic services such as health care, education, security and recreation. The UNDP considers persons living on less than US$1.00 per day (J$68) to be in extreme poverty, this approach to the definition incorporates a more dynamic and real element to the concept of poverty. The interplay between poverty, forms of social stratification and telecommunications in Jamaica is underscored when one considers that, prior to the deconstruction of the Cable and Wireless monopoly, telephony (both fixed and mobile) was the preserve of the rich; whereas, in the post-monopolized period through liberalization, a large segment of the population spanning the gamut of social classes in Jamaica have had near universal access to telephony through the cell phone. Liberalization of the telecommunications sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in the context of globalization has had three distinct features over the last two decades: 1. Transnationalisation of major telecoms providers 2. Competition (and price reduction) 3. Technological change (Foreign Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2003) These three elements have characterized the growth of telecommunications in LAC particularly with regard to mobile telephony in Jamaica. Competition among telecoms service providers has led to lower costs of mobile telephony for consumers. Consequently, usage of mobile phones among individuals of varying social and socio- 8

12 demographic groupings has increased significantly because mobile phones are not limited by the lack of landline infrastructure. But, even with increased mobile telephone usage, poverty is still a constant feature in the lives of a large segment of the population. Mobile handsets have been assimilated in various aspects of person s daily lives. This provide an excellent opportunity to study the dynamic interplay between poverty and communication access, and to understand how more pro-poor policy measures can translate into mobile opportunities for citizens at the bottom of the social and economic pyramid. 2. MAJOR FINDINGS 2.1 Mobile User Profiles Use of mobile telephones in Jamaica is very high among the respondents sampled: 93.8% indicated that they had used a mobile phone to make or receive calls in the last three (3) months, which underscores the pervasive nature of mobile telephone devices. The results also indicate that 6.2% of respondents have not used a mobile phone in the reference period. However, as an indicator of the overall high levels of mobile phone usage in Jamaica, the results show that usage was recorded consistently above 90% across most age groups, as well as across both genders, where 94.9% of women and 93.1% of men used a cell phone in the last three months. The data suggest mobile telephony constitutes a common, long standing, and constant feature in the lives of a large majority of Jamaicans. This is supported by 69% of the respondents who report that they have used the mobile phone for a period of four years or more, which is consistent across both genders with 67.5% and 71.6% of male and female users respectively Users vs. Owners Not all users of cell phones are owners of the device. The survey showed that 4.5% of respondents who have used a phone within the last three months do not own it. A total of 70% of those non-owners indicated that they used their relative s phone, whereas, 18% indicated the phone belonged to a friend. However, the great majority of users are owners: 95.5% indicated that they currently own a mobile phone, with 9

13 approximately 74.9% of those who own a mobile phone responding that they have owned one mobile phone on a regular basis over the three-month period. This was consistent within all age groups. Some 17% of respondents indicated they had and used two phones in the last three months, while 74.9% indicated they had and used one. Of the number who used two or more phones, 74.2% indicated they bought their phone/s, while 22.7% indicated they received their phone/s as a gift; and of this number 28.3% were females compared to 19.4% that were males, who received phones as gifts Acquisition Patterns The data suggest that individuals are more inclined to purchase their own phones as indicated by 69.6 % of the respondents who were in possession of a mobile phone. Among males who possessed a mobile telephone, 71.2% purchased the handset as distinct from 66.7% of females. Females constituted the greater proportion of those receiving phones as gifts, followed by respondents in the age category of 60 and over. Table 1. Amounts Expended to Buy Brand New Mobile Handsets. N Valid 530 Missing 210 Mean JA$ 7, or US$ Median JA$ 4, or US $66.18 Mode JA$ 3, or US $44.12 Minimum JA$ or US $1.91 Maximum JA$68, or US$1,000 Sum JA$3,440,303 or US$50, The maximum amount in Table 1, seems out of place for low-income households. We are speculating that the phone may have been received as a gift, or it may be indicative of a tendency among some low-income respondents to spend a large amount of money on mobile handsets as they perceive the handsets as symbols of social status. With this in mind, statistically, the mean has been affected by the maximum value and so may 10

14 not be representative of the population. Instead, the mode is more relevant because it indicates the amount spent on mobile phones most frequently Prepaid vs. Postpaid The data indicated that 96.8 % of respondents used prepayment plans which involve buying credit in advance through cards and other devices for conveying or topping up balances. These plans are popular across all major telecoms providers in the country. A mere 2.3% of the respondents indicated they had some form of post paid or controlled rental plan. The data suggest mobile phone connection plans which utilized bill payment (or rental) plans were not popular among the respondents. Among those who used post-payment plans, a mean value of JA$2,243. or about US$33 was expended monthly on phone recharges. 65.5% of those on rental plans thought that it was more convenient than pre-payment plans Prepayment Practices Of those utilizing pre-payment (card) plans, 31.6% believed it was cheaper, 40.5% thought it was a good way to have control over their expenditure and 21.3% believed that it was more convenient. 81% of those on prepayment plans indicated that they generally buy cards as a method of recharging their call balances, the second most popular method, used by 11% of the respondents, are through credit selling schemes or re-charging systems from tellers at supermarkets/shops/gas stations. Given the popularity of pre-payment plans, and widespread usage of cards as a means of recharging call balances, it was necessary to ascertain the relative ease with which users could purchase a card. A combined 66% of the respondents indicated they could access card outlets in five minutes or less: 54.5% indicated they could access it in one minute, 17.4% in two minutes, and 21.5% in five minutes. It should also be noted that 35.2% of respondents had bought a phone credit card within the last twenty four hours of the survey, while 20.1% indicated that they last bought a card two days previously. Most respondents bought cards of between US$ 1.91 (JA$130.00) and US$3.82 (JA$300.00) in value. 62.9% of these respondents had bought credit of US$1.91 (JA$130.00) in value, while 18.5% had bought a card of US$3.82 (JA$300.00) value. Some 33.3% said their card would last for one day and 21.6% of the respondents indicated that their cards would last for two days. 11

15 The emergence of the mobile phone as a medium for social networking is reflected in the breakdown of the data in terms of call destinations and origins of received calls. Of the total number of calls, the study sought to find out which are the three most important places that respondents called, with a ranking from first through to third priority. Of those who gave their thoughts on that category, 2 it was indicated that 47.8% of the respondents gave first priority to calling friends. Of those who called their workplaces, 12.9% of the respondents thought calling their workplaces was a third priority, while 4.8% of those who gave their views thought emergencies was a third priority as well. Other respondents (10.6%) considered calling relatives abroad a second priority while still fewer prioritized calling for government information Mobile Telephony: Usage Patterns Call volume Table 2 displays the summary statistics pertaining to the approximate number of calls received by respondents within the seven days preceding the survey. Table 2. Numbers of Calls Received Within a Seven Day Period. N Valid 510 Missing 591 Mean Median 20 Mode 20 Minimum 1 Maximum 300 Sum Using the mode, we realize that respondents are receiving on average over two calls per day, which seems reasonable given the income level of these respondents. 48.8% 2 The question asked respondents to indicate the categories of individuals they have called, whether friends, work, relatives on the last 30 days and to respond with 1 to 3, where 1 is the most important in number, and 3 the least important. 12

16 of respondents who further rated calls received from friends, indicated that these were of the highest priority, compared to 18.4% from in country relatives SMS patterns A total of 66.7% of the respondents indicated that they had received or sent a text message, whereas 33.3% indicated they had not sent or received a text message. Of those who did not send or receive any text messages, Figure 1 highlights the reasons found. The 42% of this group that indicated they do not know how to use text messaging is very important and perhaps is indicative of a myriad of factors such as outright unfamiliarity with the feature or it might be indicative of illiteracy or visual disability among respondents. Figure 1. Reasons for not using SMS regularly % 1.10% 5.40% 0.30% 42% 24.80% 10.10% 1.90% I don't know how to use SMS My mobile doesn't allow me to use SMS None of my contacts use it It is not very convenient Other Never have the need to Prefer to call instead Never gave it much thought The data indicate a mean value of for the number of text messages sent for the last seven days. Most text messages are sent to friends, followed by relatives then to workplaces. The data further indicate that approximately 36.1% of respondents do not recall the number of messages received in the last seven days, whereas, 31.7% indicated they didn t receive any messages. This is followed, however, by 5.6% who indicated they received ten messages in the last seven days. To ascertain where these messages originate and with what frequency, respondents were requested to indicate where most of their messages came from in the last 30 days. Of those who indicated the different sources where their messages mostly originate from, 66.1% indicated 13

17 these came from friends. Of those who indicated a second source of messages, 29.7% indicated they came from relatives (in the country), whereas those who indicated a third source of text messages, 11.9% indicated these came from overseas relatives. 3 Text messages are seen as being cheaper compared to calls. Some 75.4% of the respondents who use text messages gave this reason, whereas a small percentage thought text messages are less distracting to other individuals. To determine whether individuals would be interested in using text messages to engage in money transfers to and from overseas, we first ascertained whether they use their mobile phones to send or receive money from abroad, to which 93.7% indicated they did not. However, of this percentage (93.7 %), 75% indicated they would be interested in receiving money authorizations from abroad from friends and relatives through their mobile phones Mobile Telephony: Cost and Expenditure Patterns The survey also sought to ascertain call patterns in terms of the number of calls made in the last 30 days as an indication of cost patterns. Most respondents indicated that they are not sure (37.9%), and also that they don t know (18.8%). Owing to the tariff rates, many individuals of lower income tend to employ cost cutting strategies as a means of keeping charges on their call balances for longer periods. A total of 21.1% utilized the missed calls/beeping method, 22.4% used their cell phones to receive calls only, 14.6% only make calls at times when the rates are lower, 11.1% used it only for text messages and 1.7% indicated they rented a mobile phone from the street. It seems that a significant number of low-income users do not have a cash expenditure relationship with their phones and that many try desperately to reconcile their need to engage in social networking or to communicate with family, with saving as much as possible on their call balances. It is interesting to see whether individuals would be inclined to use their mobile phones as a means of earning income by placing calls for persons for a fee. To ascertain this information, we asked whether another person has used their phone in 3 The question asked: How many [SMS messages] did you send to each of the following [in the past 7 days]? To workplace; Friends; In country relatives; Overseas Family; Emergencies; For commercial information; For Government information; Other. 14

18 the last 30 days and whether they charged a fee, 49.8% responded that others had used their phones in the period and.97.9% of those indicated they had not charged a fee. Of those who said they charged a fee,.6% indicated they charged a fee equivalent to the tariff cost incurred to place the call, 1.1% said they charged more than the tariff cost. Mobile telephony customers have an overall good perception of their mobile signal quality. 73.2% feel that their call quality was either excellent or good. Only 3% felt call quality was bad or very bad. Figure 2 displays respondents rating of the signal quality of their mobile phone service. Figure 2. Respondents Perception of Mobile Signal Quality % 1.30% 1.70% 23.70% 43.40% Very Bad Bad Acceptable Good Excellent There also appears to be a low propensity among users to change their mobile service providers. 22.4% would definitely not switch even if another provider offered a lower package rate. Only 10.7% would definitely switch in those circumstances. Figure 3 displays the responses to whether they would change their mobile service providers should another provider offer a lower rate package. 15

19 Figure 3. Reactions to Lower Rates in Other Mobile Service Providers 10.70% 11.30% 18.40% 22.40% 9.40% 27.90% I would definitely not switch I might not switch I am not sure I might switch I would definitely switch to it It would depends on how low the rates are The data suggest there is strong brand loyalty among consumers. Figure 4 extends this point, where we asked why they would not change. Most respondents or 65.8% indicated they were satisfied with the service provided by their current provider. Figure 4. Reasons for Loyalty to Mobile Service Provider. 4.30% 8.50% 21.40% 65.80% Hassle of getting a new connection It is important to keep the number I use at present I am satisfied with the service provided by my current operator Other In order to determine the elasticities concerning the cost of mobile telephony on a monthly basis in the market, we asked how they would respond if the costs of using their mobile phone for the month were cut in half, the responses are given in Figure

20 Figure 5. Reactions to a Reduction in Mobile Telephony Rates. 8.80% 4% 46.10% 41.10% I would not change my phone usage I would increase my phone usage by same amount, but not double my usage I would double my usage I would more than double my usage Close to half (46.1%) of the users would not change their usage patterns with a half price cut in cost, while another significant number (41.1%) of users would increase usage but not double it. What this suggests is that for a significant number, 46.1% of users, price is not a major factor affecting usage. However, for more than half of the users a significant price reduction will lead to some form of increased usage, but not in proportion to the level of the reduction or discount percentage. This idea is further examined when respondents were asked how they would react if their monthly phone cost were doubled. While 22.4% would not change their phone usage patterns, 18.2% would reduce by the equivalent half and 27.2% would reduce usage but not by half. Figure 6, indicates the results of respondents on this question. 17

21 Figure 6. Reactions to Double Increase in Monthly Phone Costs % 10.60% 22.40% 18% 27.20% I would not change my phone usage I would reduce my phone usage by some amount, but not by half I would reduce my phone usage by half I would reduce my phone usage by more than half I would stop using my phone The survey also sought to ascertain what would happen if incomes doubled and how this would affect mobile telephony. Figure 7 displays the results of respondent s answers. What it suggests is that mobile phones are normal goods for at least 50% of these respondents. Where incomes have increased consumers increased their level of phone usage. We expect the reciprocal if income decreases. Figure 7. Reactions in Mobile Phone Usage of a double Increase in Income. 8.30% 2.60% 31.90% 57.30% I would not change my phone usage I would increase my phone usage by some amount, but not double my usage I would double my phone usage I would more than double my usage 18

22 Respondents were also asked what would happen if their incomes came down by half. Figure 8 displays the results for these responses. The results indicate that mobile phone usage is rather income elastic and that mobile phones are normal goods. Figure 8. Reactions in Mobile Phone Usage of a Decrease in Income. 9.90% 26.10% 29.30% 12.70% 22.10% I would not change my phone usage I would reduce my phone usage by some amount, but not half I would reduce my phone usage by half I would reduce my phone usage by more than half I would stop using my phone Mobile Telephony: Perceived Benefits Cellular telephones have widespread usage throughout most parts of Jamaica, and so the perceived benefits of mobile telephony to respondents are very important to this study. We found that most respondents thought the mobile phone had improved their lives especially in their relationship with friends. It is interesting to note that of respondents who indicated that the mobile phone had improved their lives in terms of family emergencies, 44..4% indicated that the mobile phone was most important in that regard. Other areas where respondents had noted significant changes include their quality of life in general and overall safety. Of the 51.1% respondents that indicated having a mobile phone has helped them in improving their businesses either a lot or in some degree, they further indicated how this was achieved. About half of these respondents (56.5%) indicated that the mobile phone had helped them to find better business opportunities, 47.3% indicated it had helped in improving communication with their suppliers and 72.5% and 60.5% 19

23 indicated they communicated better with colleagues and saved time at work, respectively. 3. NON-USAGE The survey sought to explore the factors accounting for non-usage of mobile phones among the respondents (6.2%) in the preceding three months before the study. 49.3% of these respondents indicated they could not afford mobile phone services. Another 23.3%% indicated they did not think having a mobile phone of their own was necessary and a further 16.4% said they cannot hear well from the instrument. 27.4% of non-users indicated they are planning to get a mobile phone during the next year. Of this group of respondents who intend to get a cell phone soon, all indicated they would be getting a prepaid connection plan, on the basis that to them prepayment plans are cheaper. Against this background, we examined the main reasons why people wanted mobile phones. Key reasons emerging include: it is more convenient to make/receive calls; users are easier to be located in case of emergencies and as a means of staying in touch with family members. 4. FIXED LINE USAGE 4.1. Fixed telephony The views of households with fixed landline phones are also very important in this study, and provide a basis for a better understanding of various usage methods. The survey found that 31.2% of the respondents indicated that they had a landline connection at home. Table 3 displays the average time period over which respondents have had their fixed lines in place. 20

24 Table 3. Average Time Period (Months) over Which Fixed Lines Have Been Installed. N Valid 336 Missing 30 Mean Median 60 Minimum 1 Maximum 600 Sum All respondents indicated they had received a fixed line call in the last seven days, while most respondents could not recall the number of calls made in the last seven days. However they indicated that most of their calls were made to friends, relatives residing in the country, relatives residing overseas and to their work place, in that order. Table 4 highlights the number of calls that fixed telephony respondents received in the past seven days. Table 4. Number of Calls Received During the Past Seven Days. Number of Calls Percentage % % % No response 45.8% Can t recall / 6.4% Don t know Group TOTAL 100 Of the total calls received in the last seven days, most were received from friends, relatives residing in the country, relatives residing overseas and to their work place, in that order. The data suggest fixed line sharing is not prevalent as 75.4% of the respondents indicated they had not shared their phone with others except their relatives. 21

25 19.4% of respondents thought the cost structure was cheap, while a large percentage (46.7%) thought it was neither cheap nor expensive, however 18.6% believed it is expensive. A total of 68.8% of the respondents indicated they did not have a fixed telephone line, and they indicated why by choosing pre-defined answers. Figure 9 displays these responses. Figure 9. Reasons for Not Having a Fixed Telephone Line. 1.90% 27.20% 8.80% 36% 1.70% 0.70% 12.70% 10.90% It is too expensive for me to afford Don't see the need to have own phone There are phone lines in the area where I live None of my contacts have a phone I don't need to use a phone because my contacts live nearby I have a mobile phone Others Not as convenient as a cellular phone 16.2% of the respondents indicated they are considering getting a fixed line in the coming year, while 65% said they would not be getting one and 18.8% indicated they were unsure. The data did not suggest any overarching set of reasons why those respondents who indicated they would be seeking a fixed line in the coming year would do so. The more popular opinion among them seemed to be that fixed lines are more convenient to make or receive calls (36.6%), while a further 30.5% of those who responded to whether the rates are cheaper indicated the cheaper rates were the basis of their decision. Of the 16.2% of respondents who indicated they are considering getting a fixed line, 79.4% indicated they would be able to pay a monthly rental fee for a fixed line of JMD$ 500 (US$ 7.35). They further indicated the amount they would be willing to pay for the monthly services. These are indicated in Table

26 Table 5. Amounts Interested Respondents Would Pay for New Monthly Fixed Line Service. Amount Percentage J$500 or Less 52.7% J$300 or Less 18.3% J$400 or Less 13% J$200 or Less 16% Group TOTAL 100% 5. INTERNET USAGE The Internet is an emerging technology that has not yet reached anywhere near the penetration rates achieved by the mobile phone. Its current cost of acquisition and operation also restricts its accessibility to a majority of respondents falling in the lower social-economic categories. However, it has grown in both usage and interest and is of special interest as an enabler of cheap voice communication through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a feature that requires broadband technology. Figure 10 indicates that a large number of respondents, 79%, do not use the Internet. Among Internet users, it also displays the number of hours respondents spend on the Internet on a weekly basis. 23

27 Figure 10. Number of Hours Spent Using the Internet % 70.00% 60.00% 50.00% 40.00% 30.00% 20.00% 10.00% 0.00% 2.50% 4.30% 3.40% 2.20% 4.30% 4.30% 79% <1 <1<2 <2<3 <3<4 <4<10 >10 Don't use Internet Number of hours spent on the Internet Figure 11 displays the primary activities in which respondents engage on the Internet. A number of users (46.3 %) appear to use the World Wide Web features of the Internet to conduct searches for various types of information (research) and 14.6% use it to conduct school-work. A significant 13.8% use it for work related activities, while 4.1% use it to pay bills. These survey results, although reflecting only a small percentage of the overall respondents, indicate the great potential of the Internet for education, e-government and e-business. The main challenges remain cost and access to Internet facilities. 24

28 Figure 11. Main Uses of the Internet. 3.30% 4.50% 13.40% 4.10% 14.60% 13.80% 46.30% Pay Bills School work Research Work related activities Earn a livelihood Make calls Other Making calls over the Internet was not popular among the respondents; this is indicated by the 3.3% who indicated they made calls over the Internet. Table 6. Average Expenditure on Internet Service 4. % $ % $ % $ % Over $ % Refused 15% Group TOTAL 100% 4 The Internet service providers utilized are displayed in Figure

29 Figure 12. Internet Service Providers Library Digicel Others Anbell Cable & Wireless Kasnet 1.60% 0.80% 8.10% 3.30% 1.20% 85.00% 0.00% 20.00% 40.00% 60.00% 80.00% % Internet Service Providers Digicel is the dominant player in the Jamaican mobile telephony market, but it is Cable and Wireless, which dominates the Internet sector because of its landline infrastructure. This further corroborates the fact that only a few of the respondents indicated they have a landline, and thereby only a few would be constantly accessing and using the Internet given the low penetration of mobile broadband applications. With the emergence of Columbus Communications, operating as Flow in Jamaica, and their lower cost Fibra Link high-speed Internet service, it is expected that greater competition to lead provider Cable and Wireless will result in lower Internet costs across the island. This may not be sufficient to affect the low usage patterns among low-income communities, given the high cost of hardware and the initial set-up cost for traditional Internet usage. The most likely zone of widespread adoption of the Internet for everyday usage is via the mobile telephone. The percentage of users who utilize Internet service, gained access to it from varied locations: 57.7% indicated they linked the Internet from home, 25.2% said they accessed it from a friend s or relative s place, 41.5% used it from their workplace/office, 14.2% accessed it from a cyber café, 15% from school-based services, and 7.3% accessed the Internet from a free public outlet. 26

30 The cost of accessing the Internet is a very important variable that should be taken into consideration. Respondent s perceptions of the cost of Internet services were obtained. A small minority of 7.3% thought that the service was cheap, while 30.1% thought that it was expensive or very expensive. Some 52.4% thought the service was neither cheap nor expensive/affordable and a further 10.2% indicated the question did not apply to them. Among Internet users, 74.4% utilized the Internet to communicate with people in other states 5 or countries. In this regard, the degree to which the Internet was perceived to improve the lives of respondents is worth perusing. Most respondents indicated that the Internet had most improved their lives in terms of education services and information, and next in line was access to health services and health related information, followed by an improvement in relationships with friends. Of those who indicated that the Internet had somewhat improved aspects of their work, the logical issue to peruse is how it was facilitated. Three main areas were popular with the respondents: 40% thought the Internet greatly facilitated their coordination with suppliers; another 59.3% thought it benefited them in coordination with customers and 77.9% thought it helped with coordination with work colleagues. 6. CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS The national survey indicated that there is pervasive use of cellular mobile phones through-out all socio-economic groups, age ranges and among both men and women sampled in Jamaica. While it appears that cell phone usage is currently dominated by social networking, it is also clear that it offers an important opportunity to build on its ubiquity to create a national network of access to the Internet and for improved access to business contacts and education. Its linkage with the Internet and the possibility of cheaper VoIP calling clearly indicate directions for development of mobile opportunities. These would 5 The Jamaican equivalent would be Parish 27

31 clearly be facilitated by speeding up the pace of convergence of Internet technologies and mobile phones and improving the means of access to this converged network. For low-income earning groups to participate in the formal business sector for example, then an appropriate policy framework must be developed, as well as the availability of affordable and accessible technologies. With larger numbers of mobile subscribers, service providers will be challenged to respond to the stronger joint purchasing power low-income users. Both providers and government regulatory powers must address the pressing need to ensure greater access and more affordable prices for users at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. The need to take advantage of convergence of mobile telephony and the Internet at reduced costs looms large in the immediate future. Innovative ideas must be developed to ensure that an already active and widely dispersed network can be used as an educational tool for all members of society including members of disadvantaged social groups who would not otherwise have an opportunity to seek out personal and business-relevant information and even to pursue higher academic qualifications. While there is still a long way to go towards widespread use of fixed Internet access, the potency of mobile telephony and mobile broadband is already evident in the field of education and business and are ripe for large scale national and regional development. The data suggest that this is an opportune time for Jamaica and other countries of the Caribbean and Latin America to develop innovative ways of linking people to the development possibilities of mobile telephony. The assimilation of telecommunications particularly mobile telephony into the everyday activities of individuals is already achieved in Jamaica and many other countries at a similar stage of development. This gives rise to new possibilities and new challenges in seeking to construct new and appropriate policy frameworks to harness and transform mobile access into broadband access to facilitate improved information and communication in the areas of health, education, e-commerce, business development, cultural exchange and teleworking. 28

32 REFERENCES Beaton, J & Wajcman, J (2004). The Impact of the Mobile Telephone in Australia. Retrieved on August 22, 2007, from Dunn, H (2005) Globalisation from Below: Caribbean Cultures, Global Technologies and the WTO in Ho C. and Nurse K. - Globalization, Diaspora and Caribbean Popular Culture, Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston and Miami, pages Dunn, L & Dunn H. (1999) Employment, Working Conditions and Labour Relations in Offshore Data Service Enterprises: case Studies of Barbados and Jamaica Working paper Number 86, ILO, Geneva. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2003). Foreign Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean. Retrieved on July 23, 2007, from Geser, H (2004). Towards a Sociological Theory of the Mobile Phone. Retrieved on August 2, 2007, from, United Nations Development Programme. Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Livelihoods. Retrieved at on August 15, Vodafone (2005). Africa the Impact of Mobile Phones. Policy Paper Series, no.2. Retrieved on August 22, 2007, from, 2000/TechnicalArticles/vodafone_africa_report05.pdf 29

33 APPENDICES Appendix 1: Fieldwork Notes Fieldwork for the survey commenced early in June 2007 and lasted for approximately three weeks through to the end of June and the first week in July Interviewers were thoroughly trained and re-trained to ensure that they fully understood the questionnaire and could handle it with maximum ease. In this regard they were all called on to conduct a number of mock interviews prior to the start of formal fieldwork. A total of 35 interviewers worked on this project, in which interviews were conducted in all parishes of the island. Despite the extensive training received, fieldwork in the early stages was not as smooth as anticipated. This was because of the difficulty some persons experienced in completing the interview in one sitting. Instead, respondents were requesting that questionnaires be left for them to complete. When it was advised that this could not be accommodated, there were initially several refusals to cooperate and a reluctance to provide information at some sensitive points. It was decided at that point to call in the interviewers for an evaluation as to how best to proceed and after some keen deliberations, it was agreed that more emphasis would be placed on detailed explanations to the respondents prior to the start of the interview process, in which they were re-assured that the data would be held in the strictest of confidence and they could not be identified in any way. Fieldwork progressed fairly smoothly following this planed interruption and all 1,174 questionnaires were completed within the stated three and one half week period. Despite this, the interviewers did face some challenges in the execution of their assigned work. In the first instance, respondents found the questionnaire exceedingly long and were still reluctant to participate. There were a number of questions that they considered too sensitive to respond to. These included questions relating to detailed family data, financial data on income and the incidence of remittances and the quantum of such remittances. In several cases, interviewers had to re-ask these questions and again re-assure respondents of the confidentiality of the information they would provide. 30

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