Doctoral Student, Carnegie Mellon University
My current research focuses on ways to reduce the urban-rural digital divide in Sub-Saharan Africa by understanding mobile service substitution in the mobile markets and designing policies to increase mobile broadband connectivity to underserved communities. The results could be used by mobile carriers and regulators in designing business models and regulations that ensure equity in mobile service access and use while maintaining growth in revenues generated.
Abstract: The deployment of high-capacity broadband access networks in rural areas in Europe lags behind that in urban and suburban areas. This study assesses the cost implications for the rollout of fixed access networks capable of providing citizens with downstream broadband capacities of 30 Mbps or 100 Mbps, which have been defined in the European Digital Agenda as targets that should be met by 2020. A cost model was employed to determine the cost of a home passed and the cost of a home connected for various fibre- and copper-based networks in rural areas. It was found that the cost of deploying a network outside a town or village in a rural area is on average 80% higher than the cost of deploying the network in the town or village. This situation may lead to a digital divide within the same rural area. For all the geotypes analysed, the following order of costs (in descending order) was identified: FTTH, FTTdp-Building, FTTdp-Street, FTTRN, FTTC and CO-VDSL. Given the long lengths of distribution, feeder and drop segments required, some network architectures will not be able to provide all households in some areas with the minimum bandwidth of 30 Mbps as defined in the European Digital Agenda. Overall, it is possible that operators will need to create a combination of various broadband access networks, due to the significant cost differences between networks. Policymakers will need to address several topics to promote the rollout of broadband networks in rural areas: how the digital divide within a rural area can be avoided; a National Broadband Plan that clearly addresses the provisioning of broadband in rural areas; elaboration of studies on broadband demand in rural areas; and the assessment of costs and technical capacity of wireless networks in rural areas.
Pub.: 27 May '16, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Older people in rural communities increasingly rely on the Internet to access essential health, finance, education, and other social services. However, their abilities to participate in the online service system are often undermined by a continuing ‘digital divide’. This divide may be exacerbated by the strategies of service providers who fail to recognise and respond to the needs of older rural clients. This paper is based on a case study in Clare, a small rural town in South Australia, and examines the experiences of older residents and local service providers in trying to engage online for digital service delivery. Drawing on two sets of in-depth interviews, the study uses a mix of thematic content analysis and social network analysis to identify the nature and extent of digital interactions between older people and service providers, and the enablers and challenges for online service engagement. Older participants demonstrated considerable interest in learning how to use the Internet for accessing particular services, with social support networks and third party facilitators being crucial enablers. Service providers’ ambitions to engage with older people online appeared more limited as a result of entrenched stereotypes of older non-users, a lack of internal digital skills, as well as organisational and funding constraints. The case study findings emphasise the importance of balancing the views of older people and service providers in the design of online engagement strategies. These insights are critical for improving online service delivery in rural communities affected by an increasing withdrawal of physical services.
Pub.: 02 Aug '16, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: The last decade has seen a rapid growth of Internet access across Africa, although it has not been evenly distributed. It is therefore important for policymakers to ask how policy can bridge this inequality of Internet access. This article addresses the dearth of research assessing the interplay between policy and Internet penetration by identifying Internet penetration-related policy variables and institutional constructs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Based on a literature review and data availability, four variables are suggested: (i) free flow of information; (ii) market concentration; (iii) the activity level of the Universal Service Fund (USF); and (iv) total tax on computer equipment. The results show that only the activity level of the USF and low total tax on computer equipment are significantly positively related to Internet penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa. Free flow of information and market concentration do not show any impact on Internet penetration. The latter could be attributed to underdeveloped competition in most Sub-Saharan countries. We recommend that policymakers promote the policy instrument of Universal Service and USF and consider substituting tax on computer equipment with other tax revenues, and not to blindly trust the market's invisible hand to fix inequality in Internet diffusion.
Pub.: 06 Aug '16, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, Volume 7, Issue 1, March 2016. Purpose The paper investigates whether Sub-Saharan African countries are catching up with the rest of the world in terms of online usage. Online service usage is an important component of the discourse of the ‘digital divide’ – an emblematic term for the inequality of information and communication technology (ICT) access. Design/methodology/approach Quantitative analysis of Internet- and Facebook penetration coupled with economic strength (GDP/capita), literacy and degree of rural population. Findings Our findings reveal a heterogeneous pattern with a few African countries being digital oases and close to European levels, whereas the majority of the countries are still digital deserts. We find a strong correlation between economic strength and Internet penetration. A generalist picture that Sub-Saharan is on the trajectory of closing the digital divide is an imprecise reflection of the reality. Research limitations/implications We argue that instead of measuring supply-side data, which has been the trend till now, the use of demand-side elements such as online service usage tells us more about digital inequalities between countries. Practical implications The research encourages Internet firms to open up their eyes for Sub-Saharan Africa as an investment opportunity with an untapped gap of online usage. Originality/value There is a paucity of research going into depth of online usage in Africa. The paper is a contribution to fill that gap.
Pub.: 21 Jan '16, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Journal of Assistive Technologies, Volume 10, Issue 1, March 2016. Purpose This study analyzes the effects of smartphone use on the Internet literacy and use by senior citizens. Design/methodology/approach Empirical Study. Findings The results indicate that the use of smartphones does significantly impact the Internet literacy and use of elderly individuals. Educational background and the duration of smartphone use enhance the ability of seniors to use the Internet. Research limitations/implications A similar study can be conducted in other different countries and see the effect (if any) of national cultures and the type/purpose of usage of the Internet; an expansion of this research, with a larger sample size, and more variables would shed greater insight on this important topic. Practical implications Study provide suggestions to governments, in cooperation with the private sectors, on how to diminish the digital divide for senior citizens not only to improve their well-being, but also because seniors are an important resource that contributes to society financially and intellectually. Originality/value This study contributes in the digital divide research: (digital divide) for senior citizens, contributing factors, and the importance of decreasing it.
Pub.: 09 Feb '16, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Based on representative surveys on Internet use, this article advances comparative research on the second-level digital divide by modeling Internet usage disparities for five countries with narrowing access gaps. Four core Internet usage types are constructed and predicted by sociodemographic variables in a structural model. Overall, the findings confirm the recently identified shift in the digital divide from access to usage in five further countries. Results show that sociodemographics alone account for up to half of the variance in usage in these high-penetration countries, with age being the strongest predictor. Measurement invariance tests indicate that a direct comparison is only valid between three of the five countries explored. Methodologically, this points to the indispensability of such tests for unbiased comparative research.
Pub.: 10 Nov '16, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: The African Union has declared 2010–2020 as the African Women's Decade to accelerate African women's development. However, to achieve the decade's goals, African countries must acknowledge the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in consolidating human capital. This research investigates gender disparities in access and use of ICTs in sub-Saharan Africa and finds that men are more likely to own and use the technologies. Education, socioeconomic status, domesticity and traditionalism are all linked to ICT use. However, the gender gap does not arise as a result of differential returns to these factors for men and women. Rather, it materializes when fewer women have the resources, or are more disadvantaged in accessing and using ICTs. Implications are discussed.
Pub.: 21 Dec '16, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Drawing on 2 years of ethnographic research that included an engaged participant component, this article seeks to build a critical theory of technology adoption in urban communities. While the high cost of broadband Internet is undeniably an obstacle to adoption, we argue that solving the problem of cost is a necessary but not sufficient solution to the digital divide. To this end, the article contends that a community's relationship to communication technology—and their ability to see it as a political and cultural tool that can be utilized not just instrumentally, but more broadly as a way to fight poverty, inequality, and other forms of oppression—is a substantial factor leading to what we call emancipatory adoption.
Pub.: 17 Jan '17, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: There is a widespread recognition that a digital divide exists between countries and individuals, and that understanding and addressing that divide is pivotal to the empowerment of citizens. Furthermore, although governments have often seen e-government services as one means of eroding the digital divide, prior research into the digital divide in the e-government context is limited. Hence, this research seeks to contribute to understanding of the nature of the digital divide as it affects Nigerian citizens, specifically users of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) web portal. The NIS portal is a rich context in which to study the digital divide: it is the most well-developed e-government service in Nigeria; its use is compulsory for citizens seeking to travel outside of Nigeria; and, its users reside within both Nigeria (a developing country) and in more developed countries, such as the US and the UK. Using an online survey, and snowball sampling, 351 completed questionnaires were collected and analysed using t-tests and Anova. The digital divide was represented in terms of the three dimensions: previous Internet experience, access to computing facilities, and previous e-government experience. Analysis demonstrated a multi-dimensional digital divide with demographic, social-economic, and locational factors affecting e-government users' Internet experience, their access to computing facilities and their e-government experience. Overall, this research offers insights into the complexity of the digital divide.
Pub.: 24 Feb '17, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Government initiatives have tried to ensure uniform computer access for young people; however a divide related to socioeconomic status (SES) may still exist in the nature of information technology (IT) use. This study aimed to investigate this relationship in 1,351 Western Australian children between 6 and 17 years of age. All participants had computer access at school and 98.9% at home. Neighbourhood SES was related to computer use, IT activities, playing musical instruments, and participating in vigorous physical activity. Participants from higher SES neighbourhoods were more exposed to school computers, reading, playing musical instruments, and vigorous physical activity. Participants from lower SES neighbourhoods were more exposed to TV, electronic games, mobile phones, and non-academic computer activities at home. These patterns may impact future economic, academic, and health outcomes. Better insight into neighbourhood SES influences will assist in understanding and managing the impact of computer use on young people's health and development.
Pub.: 01 Apr '17, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Across Europe, policymakers and market forces are striving to deploy next generation access (NGA) networks and ensure ubiquitous access to superfast broadband services. Due to scale economies and sunk costs, the roll-out of NGA is expected to be profitable only for large-scale providers and in densely populated areas. Nonetheless, alternative providers, such as utilities and local communities, have significantly contributed to NGA diffusion in many countries. Over the past five years, several small-scale initiatives have emerged in the UK, bringing fibre networks to urban and rural areas previously overlooked by either commercial or subsidised deployments. A multiple case study approach is employed here to explore the nature and the drivers of niche providers in the UK NGA market. All these initiatives are demand-driven and to follow a modular approach. Despite adopting different business models, they all rely on the resources inherited from past broadband initiatives and relationships with local partners. By investigating the strategies of niche providers in NGA market, this analysis sheds light on their contribution to bridging the digital divide in the UK and is presented as a preliminary assessment of their sustainability and potential growth.
Pub.: 18 Mar '17, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: The continuing transition of the Internet from wired to mobile has facilitated changes in Internet use. By focusing on older consumers as a potentially disadvantaged group, this study examines whether smart environments have the potential to bridge the digital divide. Data were derived from an analysis of the 2013 South Korean Information Divide data set (n = 2386 for those 60 years and older; n = 5841 for those under 60 years). The existence of a digital divide in the smart environment was verified by comparing younger and older South Koreans; this showed that continuing consumer education is needed to enhance older people's experience and skills regarding information and in its use of communication technology. The digital divide was measured based on three aspects: accessibility, competence, and usage. In smart environments, gaps in accessibility and competence between the age groups increased whereas the gap in information usage decreased. Compared with the personal computer-based environment, members of both groups in the smart environment exhibited increased usage levels with regard to social relationship services, while the gap between the groups with regard to use of convenience services was reduced.
Pub.: 01 Apr '17, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Access to the Internet has grown dramatically over the past two decades. Using data from a population-based survey, we aimed to determine the prevalence and predictors of (i) access to the Internet, and (ii) use of the Internet to search for health information.
Pub.: 14 Apr '17, Pinned: 04 Aug '17
Abstract: Abstract In its 2016 Broadband Report, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recognizes that a rural/urban digital divide remains prevalent—especially with respect to broadband adoption. It also highlights several policies that the FCC has undertaken purportedly to reduce the divide, including the 2015 Open Internet Order (OIO)—in which the stated intent is to enforce “network neutrality.” However, long before the OIO, studies have raised concerns that network neutrality policies will discourage investment by internet service providers (ISPs) in broadband infrastructure, to the detriment of broadband accessibility, and may increase average consumer costs—both of which would only further exacerbate the digital divide. In this paper, we provide a holistic analysis of the effects of net neutrality on the digital divide; in doing so, we draw from recent economic research on this issue. Our goal is to present a range of economic considerations that should be taken into account when evaluating the overall impact of the OIO, with particular attention to its impact on the digital divide.AbstractIn its 2016 Broadband Report, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recognizes that a rural/urban digital divide remains prevalent—especially with respect to broadband adoption. It also highlights several policies that the FCC has undertaken purportedly to reduce the divide, including the 2015 Open Internet Order (OIO)—in which the stated intent is to enforce “network neutrality.” However, long before the OIO, studies have raised concerns that network neutrality policies will discourage investment by internet service providers (ISPs) in broadband infrastructure, to the detriment of broadband accessibility, and may increase average consumer costs—both of which would only further exacerbate the digital divide. In this paper, we provide a holistic analysis of the effects of net neutrality on the digital divide; in doing so, we draw from recent economic research on this issue. Our goal is to present a range of economic considerations that should be taken into account when evaluating the overall impact of the OIO, with particular attention to its impact on the digital divide.
Pub.: 03 Dec '16, Pinned: 03 Aug '17
Abstract: In the UK, the geography of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure required for Internet connectivity is such that high speed broadband and mobile phone networks are generally less available in rural areas compared with urban areas or, in other words, as remoteness and population sparsity increase so too does the likelihood of an area having no or very poor broadband connectivity. Against a policy backdrop of UK Government efforts to bring forward network infrastructure upgrades and to improve the accessibility of broadband services in locations where there is a weak commercial investment case, this paper considers the options for the ‘final few’ in the prevailing ‘Digital by Default’ public services context. The paper outlines the Rural Public Access WiFi Services project, a study focused upon enabling Internet connectivity for commercially ‘hard to reach’ rural areas in the UK. The Rural Public Access WiFi Services concept and the experiment are introduced before findings from a pilot deployment of a broadband service to households in a remote rural area, who may be classified as ‘digitally excluded’, are presented. The paper then reflects on our field experiment and the potential of the Rural Public Access WiFi Services service model as a solution to overcoming some of the digital participation barriers manifest in the urban–rural divide. Early indications show that the Rural Public Access WiFi Services model has the potential to encourage participation in the Digital Economy and could aid the UK Government’s Digital by Default agenda, although adoption of the model is not without its challenges.
Pub.: 18 Oct '16, Pinned: 03 Aug '17
Abstract: The Internet can bestow significant benefits upon those who use it. The prima facie case for an urban-rural digital divide is widely acknowledged, but detailed accounts of the spatial patterns of digital communications infrastructure are rarely reported. In this paper we present original analysis of data published by the UK telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, and identify and reflect on the entrenched nature of the urban-rural digital divide in Great Britain. Drawing upon illustrative case vignettes we demonstrate the implications of digital exclusion for personal and business lives in rural, and in particular remote rural, areas. The ability of the current UK policy context to effectively address the urban-rural digital divide is reviewed and scenarios for improving digital connectivity amongst the ‘final few’, including community-led broadband, satellite broadband and mobile broadband, are considered. A call is made for digital future proofing in telecommunications policy, without which the already faster urban areas will get ‘faster, fastest’ leaving rural areas behind and an increasingly entrenched urban-rural divide.
Pub.: 17 Jan '17, Pinned: 03 Aug '17
Abstract: During the last decades, the widespread growth of information and communication technologies (ICT) has posed incentives to broaden the participation of individuals in social, political and economic dimensions of life. However, utilization of ICT also involves access to technology and infrastructure, and acquisition of skills to deal with innovations and, thus, digital literacy is, primarily, a complementary good. The digital divide expresses inequalities in access and utilization of ICT among individuals and populations in different countries. The study adopts inequalities indexes of Internet access and mobile phone ownership to measure use of ICT goods, accounting for the digital divide in Brazil. The inequality indexes are also split according to main determinants using four nationally representative survey data from 2005 to 2013. Results indicate that the digital divide among individuals is decreasing quite fast among Brazilians over time. However, there is room for policies of mass access to ICT goods based on mobile Internet broadband access. In addition, digital illiteracy, evaluated by lack of education, is one of the main determinants of the digital divide in the country, especially among elderly individuals.
Pub.: 28 Oct '16, Pinned: 03 Aug '17
Abstract: This paper focuses on interdependencies between mobile Internet (MI) usage and mobile voice (MV) calling patterns among residential customers in one member country of the Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The analyzed data set contains usage data of 10,366 postpaid subscribers of a mobile network operator (MNO) in a GCC country over 25 months from July 2013 to July 2015. The results suggest a complementary MV–MI usage relationship. This relationship is more positive for users who (1) send fewer SMS, (2) are younger, (3) are foreign nationals, (4) use a smartphone, and (5) have a longer tariff tenure. The strength of MV–MI usage association in the GCC country sample is larger than relationships observed in earlier work, which analyzed MNO subscribers in Europe. This suggests that the development trajectory of a country’s telecommunications service market moderates the relationship between MI and MV calling use intensity.
Pub.: 09 Feb '17, Pinned: 03 Aug '17