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The Impacts of Emerging Mobile Data Services in Developing Countries

November 1, 2015

How common are zero-rated data services in developing countries? What is their impact? Our new research, “The Impacts of Emerging Data Services in Developing Countries” aims to answer these questions.

The positive socio-economic effects associated with Internet access and use are well documented. Indeed, governments across the world have sought to promote national development goals by increasing broadband access. However, the majority of the world’s people are not yet online; it is estimated that by the end of 2015 over two-thirds of the global population — equivalent to over 4 billion people — will still be unconnected, with the majority of this offline population concentrated in developing countries.

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has been working to address this challenge by focusing on one of the most important barriers to access: the high cost to connect to the Internet. The last few years have seen a growing number of initiatives that aim to increase usage, including a range of data service plans that offer reduced-cost or zero-rated data (i.e., data offered to users at no cost which can only be used on specific sites/apps). Despite the growing profile of such services, there is a dearth of empirical evidence on the effectiveness of zero-rated and other mobile data services, making it difficult to develop informed recommendations on their use.

Through this research, we aim to learn more about the availability, use and impact of these zero-rated and other mobile data service models designed to provide access at lower costs. Using empirical research, we will determine how service-specific, zero-rated, and other new data service models impact Internet affordability and usage in developing countries and in so doing, will inform policy-makers on how best to address such services as part of their overall strategies to improve Internet access.

Read the full report:


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