Articles

PR: The Muft Internet Research Study is out!

ENABLING FREE INTERNET ACCESS

IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES USING A

PARTICIPATORY DESIGN APPROACH

 

 

 

by

 

JINESH NAGIN PAREKH

Masters of Science in Human Computer Interaction

 

 

Institute of Informatics

Tallinn University, Estonia

2015

 

 

Supervised and approved by:

 

Professor David Lamas

Dr. Sonia Sousa

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the existing members of the HCID and ICTD community and their continued efforts to bridge the digital divide.  This thesis would not be possible without the involvement of all the participant volunteers and their ideas, time and efforts.

A Special Thank You to the All the Key Enablers of the Design Project

For giving me crucial economic and financial insights with regards to ISP businesses in India and helping me create a business model for Muft WiFi.

Bharti Parekh (Business Modeling Expert and Chartered Account, ICAI India)

Nagin Parekh (Business Modeling Expert and Chartered Account, ICAI India)

Aditi Parekh (Consultant, Deloitte)

Hitesh Shah (Investment Expert, PPIC)

Ritesh Shah (Financial Analyst, ex-KMPG)

Neha Rambhia (Student, Harvard Business School)

Rajesh Shah (Entrepreneur, Mumbai Masala Café)

Siddharth Bharwani (COO, Jetking Infotrain)

Rashi Dhandia (MBA, Singapore Management University)

For giving me crucial insights on governmental efforts on bridging the digital divide, understanding government laws and regulations and national cyber security concerns.

Meenakshi Lekhi (Member of Parliament for Government of India)

Vijay Tribhuvan (Assistant commissioner, Mumbai Police)

Dilip Shah (Lawyer, Dilip Shah and Associates)

Akhil Gurwada (Lawyer, Mulla & Mulla & Craigie Blunt & Caroe)

For helping me understand wireless technologies, network architectures and developing the overall technical solutions required for this project.

Vipul Patel (Engineer, 3 Spin Creative Solutions)

Yatin Tribhuvan (Interaction Designer, Colorbud Studio)

Amit Goyal (Chief Engineer, Rirev)

Audrey Boullot (International Development (student), SciencePo Paris)

Mahendra Nagle (Freelance Network Architect)

Khwaja Umair (Human Computer Interaction (student), Tallinn University)

For giving me crucial insights on existing digital advertising and ad-market insights.

Preeti Vyas (Owner, VGC Interactive Designs)

Anushree Seth (Media Selling Expert, ex-Disney India)

Harshil Karia (Co-Founder, Foxymoron Digital Agency)

For their key volunteering efforts at different stages of the project:

Małgorzata Łuczkowska

Amey Tribhuvan

Mel Batson

Student volunteers from H.R College (RCHR Club)

Management Staff at Jetking Infotrain

Technical Staff at Realtel ISP

Technical Staff at Hathway ISP

 

Lastly, I would I like thank my supervisors Professor David Lamas and Dr. Sonia Sousa and my colleagues at Tallinn University’s Institute of Informatics for their constant support and guided expertise throughout this project.

Dedication

This thesis is dedicated to 60% of the human race whose creativity we miss out on every single day simply because they lack Internet access.

ABSTRACT

In the past couple of decades we have seen a sharp rise in Internet usage, data consumption and the overall number of Internet users. With the rise of broadband connectivity, mobile Internet, mobile applications and overall web utility through localized content and services; we have been able to observe many positive effects of Internet access. Many Human Computer Interaction and Development (HCID) and Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD) studies in this time have demonstrated how countries with higher Internet penetration and adoption enjoy better economic growth, improved educational systems, more democratic participation and overall enhancement in various Quality of Life (QOL) indicators.

As of 2014, the sad truth remains that over half of the human population is deprived of basic Internet access. Most of these people live in developing or poor countries. This reflects a deep gap between technology creators’ / designers’, policy makers’ and industry’s understanding/involvement of the end users. The problems lie beyond an individual’s conventional understanding like hardware availability, user literacy or network coverage.
Complex and intertwined sociotechnical roadblocks play a key role in curbing Internet penetration and adoption in many countries that face a huge digital divide. However, one common pattern can be spotted among such countries – ‘affordability’. Even with the sharp decline in prices of Internet enabled mobile devices and data plans over the past decade, quality Internet access still remains expensive or unaffordable to many.

The study was conducted in India with the goal of overcoming various legal, economic and technological barriers to ‘enable free Internet access’ for users. In this study, we try to address the problem of ‘affordability’ in Internet access for existing Internet users in India that own an Internet enabled mobile device but cannot afford to pay for mobile Internet packages. Using a Participatory Design approach and a Double Diamond design process, an economically sustainable and technologically scalable ‘free Wi-Fi Zone’ model was designed and prototyped in this study.

This research study aims to provide valuable insights to various research organizations, governmental bodies, Internet service providers, hardware/software companies and other agents working in the ICTD space and trying to bridge the digital divide.

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