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LIRNEasia clarifies facts
By Bala Shah

LIRNEasia describes itself as a regional information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation capacity-building organization active across the Asia Pacific.  Put simply, it is a think tank and research body which strives to improve the lives of the people in the Asia Pacific. By all accounts,  it is doing a sterling job.

Earlier this month, Techgoss had published an article ‘Missed Facts in missed calls article’ which was partly based on the LIRNEasia research, but mainly about how TOI had reported it.

LIRNEasia has sent in the following clarification to techgoss


We greatly appreciate the discussion of our teleuse @ BOP3 study entitled “Missed Facts in missed calls article” on your website, dated 10 July 2009, especially the effort taken by the writer to dig deeper beyond the newspaper story.  In that spirit, we believe a few clarifications may add to the discussion. 

The headline of the original Times of India article, which has been repeated in subsequent publications is not accurate. As the writer correctly notes, our data shows that Indians were not the only BOP teleusers who used missed calls.  We share our results with the media but have no control over how it is presented (or how headlines are written!).

There may be some inaccuracy in percentages of population living on less than USD2 per day reported; these were old data from a secondary source supplied by our field research subcontractor. We are trying our best to locate more up-to-date data on this indicator.  We presented that data solely to illustrate that our definition of the bottom of the pyramid (SEC groups D and E) is somewhat in line with the less-than-two-dollars-a-day criterion.  That definition had nothing to do the design of our research.  The SEC classification that we used is well known in market research circles and was chosen because it could be applied across countries.

The reference to “‘consumer-lead innovation like wives using tracking devices on phones of cheating husbands” comes from a finding from the Philippines.  Again, how the media reports information that we provide is beyond our control. You can read more about this  and much more in the full qualitative research report from CKS Consulting Private Ltd of Bangalore  which was released in May 2009, and which was the basis of the Times of India story; the quantitative research findings were released in February 2009.

 

(Techgoss had published the following article on July 10, 2009)

Missed Facts in missed calls article
By Bala Shah

LIRNEasia describes itself as a regional information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation capacity-building organization active across the Asia Pacific.  Put simply, it is a think tank and research body which strives to improve the lives of the people in the Asia Pacific. Now, its research is being touted to say that only Indians make missed calls.

Over the last few years, LIRNEasia surveyed BOP (Bottom of Pyramid) citizens in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Thailand to work out how they used phones.  Bottom of Pyramid people are those who earn less than $2 a day.

According to Lirneasia, more than 20 thousand people were interviewed in the survey funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada with contributions from Telenor Research and Innovation.

While overall, the findings of the LIRNEasia report make sense, there are some shaky facts.  According to the report, 86 percent of the Indian population earns less than $2 a day.

Some facts are quite interesting.  While 96 percent of Pakistani BOP’s made a phone call in the last 3 months, only 86 percent Indians did the same.  Even Bangladesh beat us by having a 95 percentage call rate.

45 percent of BOP Indians had a phone; Bangladesh had this at 43 percent and Pakistan 41 percent.

Apparently, even with less than $2 a day, 9 percent of BOP Indians had more than one SIM card.  And 16 percent of them had more than one mobile phone.

If the LIRNEasia survey is to be believed, 1 percent of such poor Indians use their mobile phones to surf the net, send MMS and even send emails.

The LIRNEasia survey was released in Feb, 2009.  But Times of India chose to do an article only on July 9, 2009.
 
The Times of India article was titled ‘Only Indians make, receive missed calls: Study’. This was erroneous.  While most of the facts in the Times of India article were based on the LIRNEasia research, there was at least one point not mentioned in the research. Times of India claimed that the LIRNEasia reports ‘consumer-lead innovation like wives using tracking devices on phones of cheating husbands’. This was not true.

So, what did LIRNEasia report?  94 percent of Bangladeshis, 84 percent of Pakistanis and 86 percent of Filipinos also make missed calls.  In India, missed calls are made to let a person know you are free or have arrived at a movie theatre.  So, you are in touch without actually spending a rupee.

While the Times of India headline ‘Only Indians make, receive missed calls’ was misleading, it is sure to engage the reader.

Another enlightening example on how ‘facts’ are collected and ‘news’ reported.


(7/29/2009)
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