June 2016, Issue 31
Mobile stand in Arusha, Tanzania. Photo: Karolle Rabarison.
Exploring User Experience and Perceived Benefits of Emerging Mobile Data Services
Recent years have seen growing debate around mobile data services such as zero-rating. Yet, data and analysis on how they impact access to and use of mobile broadband remain limited. In response to this gap, A4AI has undertaken research on emerging mobile data services in developing countries, with findings shared through a series of research briefs. 

The latest brief draws insight from a survey of 8,000 mobile Internet users across eight countries—Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru and the Philippines—and presents a first look at how they use zero-rating and other service models designed to provide more affordable access.

Key findings from the survey include: 
  • 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.
  • Users typically combine data plans to suit their connectivity needs. In terms of users shifting from use of a zero-rated service to a paid service, 28% of all zero-rating users no longer use a zero-rating plan and are now paying customers (i.e., they now use a full-cost or service-specific plan). In addition, 35% of all zero-rating users continue to use the zero-rated service and a paid plan. 37% continue to use only “no cost” options — that is, their zero-rated service in combination with 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.
Read Full Report
Share on social media: Digging into the data: Is zero-rating connecting the unconnected? New report by @A4A_Internet. 
Also in this issue:
ResearchInternational Advocacy | Membership | Upcoming Events | Noteworthy
New Case Study: Realising Affordable Internet in Bangladesh

Asian Development Bank, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A4AI is excited to share a new country case study—an in-depth look at affordable Internet in Bangladesh.

The case study explores the long history of telecoms regulation in the country, the state of Internet use, and the policy environment currently governing the sector. We also discuss the remaining barriers to access and highlight opportunities for more advanced policy frameworks to address those challenges.

→ Read the case study and do reach out with your questions and comments.
JONCTION hosted a participatory workshop on May 4, 2016, to explore the challenges for FAST Internet and human rights in Senegal (CC BY 2.0). 
We Need F.A.S.T. Internet in Africa
As part of the FASTAfrica campaign, more than 30 civil society groups from 20 African countries participated in a week of action in May to demand F.A.S.T. Internet:
  • Fast: For true economic and educational impact, we need average download and upload speeds of at least 4MB per second for efficient Web browsing and online communication.

  • Affordable: A basic prepaid data plan of 1GB should cost less than 2% of average national monthly income, and there should be plenty of free public access points too.

  • Safe: Our privacy, security and rights online should be protected in line with the African Declaration of Internet Rights and Freedoms, which should be adopted by all.

  • Transparent: Policies related to information and communication technology (ICT) laws, taxation and pricing need to be openly available and easy to understand.

Throughout the week, the groups led activities such as policy meetings, workshops, hackathons, and local radio programs. FASTAfrica representatives—Nanjira Sambuli, Busayo Obisakin, Anne Jellema—also traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, the following week to present the FAST principles at the World Economic Forum on Africa. The delegates had the opportunity to share the campaign outcomes to private and public sector stakeholders, including ICT Ministers, and urged African leaders to develop concrete plans towards fast, affordable Internet access.

This Action Week was only the beginning. Visit the FASTAfrica page to explore a roundup of the activities—and use #FASTAfrica to speak up about why Africa needs FAST Internet.
FASTAfrica campaign infographic
How Might We Improve Rural Connectivity?
Rural communities in low-income countries are the least likely to be connected or to afford access to the Internet. If we are to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 9c (universal and affordable access in least developed countries), we need to make significant progress in improving connectivity among rural populations.

A4AI had the opportunity to organize a session on rural connectivity challenges as part of the ICTD2016 conference, held June 3rd-6th, at the University of Michigan, USA.

Research Manager Dhanaraj Thakur moderated the session, while experts from A4AI member organisations initiated discussion by sharing examples from their own work: 
  • Jane Coffin (Internet Society): While supply side issues are important for rural connectivity, it is also important to address community capacity and leadership in driving local solutions. Jane shared ISOC's experience on capacity development for rural communities.
  • Paul Garnett (Microsoft): Many rural areas lack adequate telecommunications infrastructure to support connectivity. Paul spoke to Microsoft’s efforts to connect rural communities by making use of TV white spaces.
  • Anita Gurumurthy (IT for Change): ­There are a wide range of initiatives supported by private, public, and civil society organizations that all seek to improve Internet connectivity in rural areas. Drawing from IT for Change's research and advocacy, Anita focused on how the design and implementation of these initiatives can have a meaningful impact on the development of rural communities.
The discussion emphasized the need for local partnerships and networks to develop technical solutions such IXPs and community-managed wireless systems. Key factors to scale such technical projects include a reliable ISP partner, supportive regulator, co-funding at the seed stage, and commercial viability. One example shared was Mawingu Networks, a Kenya-based business that uses TV white spaces and combines nonprofit and for-profit models.

Another theme that emerged from the session is the need to look beyond connectivity and consider the capabilities for discerning use. The market may bridge the access divide, but not address the capabilities divide—how people can use the Internet to improve their lives. Local control over data and information is key, and community-owned networks—complemented by public access solutions—need to be a trusted cornerstone for local development.
Unlocking Africa's Digital Future

Save the date: September 13-14, 2016
Accra, Ghana

Keen to attend? Please complete the interest form: – to receive upcoming announcements about registration and ways to participate.

Organizations looking for sponsorship opportunities may contact and
Welcoming CIPESA to A4AI
We are pleased to announce that CIPESA is the latest civil society organization to join the Alliance. CIPESA is a leading research centre focused on ICT policy in Africa. Headquartered in Kampala, Uganda, the centre works with diverse stakeholders—from the public, private, and civil society sectors—across East and Southern Africa to promote policies for ICT access and inclusion.

Visit to learn more about their activities and follow @cipesaug for frequent updates on ICT policy in Africa.
June 20-23 | Congreso Latinoamericano de Telecomunicaciones
Cancún, Mexico
* A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge and LAC Coordinator Yacine Khelladi speaking, participating
* A4AI Policy roundtable, June 23rd: What will it take to achieve the SDGs on universal and affordable access?

June 21-23 | OECD Ministerial Meeting on Digital Economy
Cancún, Mexico
* A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge speaking, LAC Coordinator Yacine Khelladi attending

June 28 | Wireless Global Congress
Liverpool, UK
*A4AI Deputy Director Kojo Boakye speaking (TBC)

June 29-30 | A4AI-Mozambique Coalition Meeting & Workshop
Maputo, Mozambique
* Workshop and consultation on infrastructure sharing, in collaboration with A4AI member Vieira de Almeida
* Join the coalition

July 4-5 | A4AI-Nigeria Coalition Meeting & Workshop
Lagos, Nigeria
* Workshop on spectrum trading
* Agenda forthcoming; save the date
July 6-7 | A4AI-Ghana Coalition Meeting & Workshop
Accra, Ghana
* Workshop on infrastructure sharing policy and regulation, in collaboration with A4AI member Vieira de Almeida
* View the agenda and RSVP to attend

July 20-21 | Capacity Building on Mobile Sector Regulation
Naypyidaw, Myanmar
* Hosted by A4AI and GSMA; invitations forthcoming

July 22 | A4AI-Myanmar Coalition Meeting
Naypyidaw, Myanmar
* Agenda and invitation forthcoming; join the A4AI-Myanmar coalition

July 26-28 | Mobile 360 Series—Africa
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
* A4AI Honorary Chair Omobola Johnson speaking

Sept 13-14 | Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology
Accra, Ghana
* Hosted by A4AI, African Development Bank, Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT, UN Women, and Web Foundation
* Registration information forthcoming; complete the interest form
* Explore sponsorship opportunities
A4AI members that would like their updates featured in the newsletter can contact

A4AI is looking for a Research Analyst to join the team. Apply by Wednesday, June 22nd.
Cisco's John Garrity shares insights from ICT4D Conference and examples of innovative solutions to expand connectivity.

See also: "Business Models for the Last Billion," a new report by FHI360's mSTAR project that uncovers low-cost approaches to connectivity.

Beyond Access launches the new program Tech Age Girls Myanmar to close the digital gender gap in the country.

Intel's She Will Connect Africa program: Women share how connecting to the Web is creating new opportunities and changing their lives. [video]

Related: Three key issues for a feminist—access, agency, and movements.

On the APC blog, David Souter shares fresh takes on ICT policy, development, and rights in the new weekly series "Inside the Information Society."

Why rural areas need fiber optics connectivity.

A4AI-Ghana coalition is seeking a consultant for a study on infrastructure sharing. Apply by Friday, June 17th.

About A4AI

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is a global coalition of public sector, private sector, and civil society organisations working to advance the shared mission of affordable access to mobile and fixed-line Internet for all.
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