Article

Challenges and opportunities for advancing Internet access in developing countries while upholding net neutrality

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Abstract

Access to affordable Internet is increasingly a development priority, and even considered a basic right. There are huge economic and social benefits to be reaped from Internet access, as evidenced by gross domestic product contributions, as well as projections. However, a majority of the world’s population, most of who are in developing nations, remain unconnected. A crucial policy debate on how to avail Internet access, while upholding and preserving the openness of the Internet, also known as net neutrality, is emerging as state actors, private sector players and civil society alike operate in this space. The practice of zero-rating is one of the most popular approaches to getting the unconnected online. This follows the fact that the mobile phone is the primary device through which the ‘next billion’ Internet users are expected to get online. The overarching question is whether zero-rating defies the principle of net neutrality, by favouring some content over other content. The challenge for policy makers and regulators in developing countries, as addressed in this paper, is knowing which regulatory frameworks will be needed to expand Internet access to under served communities, without compromising the fundamental principles of a free and open Internet.

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... • Physical connection of AR headset to external device causes limitation in mobility (Lang et al., 2019) • AR headset connection to external processor through the Internet suffers from access issues if the inspection field is at remote locations (Pourhomayoun et al., 2016) especially in developing countries (Sambuli, 2016) -The latency caused by transferring big datasets (e.g., high quality video stream) between the external processor and the AR headset hinders real-time image-processing (L. Liu et al., 2019) New AR standalone approach (proposed work) Advantages Limitations -Near real-time processing by removing the latency caused by transferring big datasets between external processor and AR headset -Drops the requirement for availing external processors in inspection fields -Does not need Internet connection to operate: ...
... Liu et al., 2019). In addition, this self-dependence resolves the problem caused by Internet limitations in remote locations (Pourhomayoun et al., 2016) especially in developing countries (Sambuli, 2016). Furthermore, the AR headset can connect to external processors only when running on the same wireless network (Jana et al., 2017). ...
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In‐field visual inspections have inherent challenges associated with humans such as low accuracy, excessive cost and time, and safety. To overcome these barriers, researchers and industry leaders have developed image‐based methods for automatic structural crack detection. More recently, researchers have proposed using augmented reality (AR) to interface human visual inspection with automatic image‐based crack detection. However, to date, AR crack detection is limited because: (1) it is not available in real time and (2) it requires an external processing device. This paper describes a new AR methodology that addresses both problems enabling a standalone real‐time crack detection system for field inspection. A Canny algorithm is transformed into the single‐dimensional mathematical environment of the AR headset digital platform. Then, the algorithm is simplified based on the limited headset processing capacity toward lower processing time. The test of the AR crack‐detection method eliminates AR image‐processing dependence on external processors and has practical real‐time image‐processing.
... zero-rating) concentrate on regulations (e.g. Net neutrality) as in [12], [13], [14], [15], and the assessment of its benefits and costs as in [1], [16]. Yet, there are limited studies of its impact on mobile plans and MNOs' profit as well as finding equilibrium strategies of the involved players in game theoretic models. ...
... which depends on the correlation ρ between WTP of the services and the normalization factor ω. This is the reason that we consider s M = s M (1 − ρω) in (12). Both ρ and ω should be chosen according to the type of free services offered in the zero-rating bundle. ...
Article
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Article
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... In LMICs, the internet is most commonly accessed via smartphones. 13 Recent 2020 assessments estimate approximately 63% of phones worldwide are smartphones. 14 As smartphones have become globally more accessible, mHealth stakeholders have increased investment into smartphone applications ("mHealth applications") that promote interactive user experiences. ...
Article
Mobile health (mHealth) technologies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have received increased attention for the significant potential benefits they can bring to underserved populations. As smartphones are becoming increasingly accessible, many stakeholders in the mHealth space have begun exploring smartphone applications as a means to impact individuals living within LMICs. With the COVID-19 pandemic straining healthcare systems around the world, many governments in LMICs turned to use smartphone applications to help support and manage their pandemic responses. By analyzing national COVID-19 applications created and launched by the Indian and Vietnamese governments, we highlight effective application functions and strategies, summarizing best practices for future LMIC application development.
... Although the Internet made the storing and retrieval of information accessible, not many people have benefited from the wealth of the Internet. This is because many people lack Internet access, especially in Africa and developing nations (Abdulqadir & Asongu, 2022;Mojapelo, 2020;Owan et al., 2021Owan et al., , 2022Oyedemi, 2015;Sambuli, 2016). Without internet access, there will be difficulty gathering scholarly materials, especially at the convenience of one's location. ...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the Mendeley desktop application as a digital library in the hands of researchers, scientists, and scholars. The chapter presented an overview of a digital library and used the features of Mendeley to justify it as a digital library for researchers, scientists, and scholars. The chapter provided an extensive guide on how to work with the Mendeley Application to perform various tasks. The importance of the application was also discussed, while it was also compared with a traditional library. This chapter should enable anyone without prior of Mendeley to effectively utilise it as a digital library.
... First, there are large inequalities in access to digital networks and in the skills required to use computerised networks optimally. While access to internet is widespread in economically advanced countries, digital inequalities create a major vulnerability to the sanitary and economic consequences of COVID-19 in low-and middle-income countries (Beaunoyer et al., 2020;Robinson et al., 2015;Sambuli, 2016). People who lack reliable access to computers and reliable internet access in their houses are not able to work remotely. ...
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Research suggests that the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affected poor communities. However, relatively little is known about how this differential impact affected support for, and compliance with, COVID-19 lockdown policies. This article examines the relationship between socioeconomic inequalities and public opinion towards COVID-19 containment measures in Peru. Despite the strict quarantine measures adopted by the government of Peru, the country struggled to contain the spread of the disease. We designed and implemented a nationally representative survey in Peru and found that economically vulnerable sectors are more likely to oppose the quarantine and are more likely to defy the stay-at-home recommendations to leave home and go to work. Our contribution highlights that poor citizens’ housing and economic conditions can explain why the poor are more likely to react negatively to COVID-19 lockdown policies.
... A counterpoint to expanded participation, remote data collection may create or foment selection bias because access to electricity, mobile phones, and the Internet, while expanding, is not nearly as universal in LMICs as in HICs. [23][24][25] Though mobile phone ownership among women has been increasing, a gender gap persists: women are 10% less likely than men to own mobile phones across LMICs with the largest gap observed in South Asia. 23 Similarly, women in LMICs are 23% less likely than men to use 'mobile internet', a term that refers to accessing the internet via a smartphone or tablet using a wireless or cellular connection. ...
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... A 'neighbourhood view' on the larger issues of 're-development' removes the specialisation of informal settlement development which should be seen as city development and has the potential to normalise the processes of in-situ development for any form of marginalised area in South Africa. The technocratic approach to these challenges in both the physical and digital space has already shifted away from the sciences (Sambuli, 2016;Berridge, 2017) and is looking to incorporate the humanities and embody the principles of social sciences and development studies in the technical approach. The missing piece remains models, examples and a skilled individuals who can take up the call. ...
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The South African city we experience today did not simply manifest in a vacuum outside of the social injustice of the last 400+ years of colonial and Apartheid ‘development’. The four-hour commute that the average Johannesburg city user experiences, the sense of fractured locality across the metropolitans of Durban and Pretoria and the intact socio-economic segregation of townships to suburbs seen in Cape Town are all the tangible legacies of the Apartheid city design that we complicity accept as our South African city on a daily basis. The knee-jerk reaction by built environment practitioners to this observation is typically a technocratic response to suggest an addition of infrastructure and implementation and not a reform of the practice of city-making. The fact remains that among the large-scale projects our democratic government has implemented we sit with infrastructure deficits larger today than 1994. The practice of ‘making city’ in South Africa requires some form of radical change, one that calls on all city makers to re-conceptualise how we see, make and manage our spaces. While technical skills and competencies are vital to this approach, the immediate challenge for built environment practitioners can be seen in the lack of skills or willingness of individuals and institutions to engage with the socio-political complexity of our cities. The misnomer that we are dealing with a homogenous technical challenge for a homogenous social demographic of people (or the ‘community’) that can be solved through a ‘better house/shack/dwelling’, a more efficient toilet system or solar panel array, is damaging and criminally myopic in its lack of imagination, creativity or recognition of the situation. The paper offers a structured reflection on an eight-year case study conducted by the author and his colleagues. The argument of the paper is centered around a critique on the often-misused terms of ‘informality’, community’, ‘participation’ and ‘development’ in the built environment sector of spatial development. The case study unpacks the approach and methods used within the Socio-Technical Spatial Design practice of ‘Neighbourhood Making’ and offers a reflection on critical skills and lessons gathered from the experience. The intent of this reflexive study is to offer a working reference for private-sector practitioners, government officials and grassroots practitioners who are looking to engage informal neighbourhood upgrading in South Africa.
... In developing countries and tribal nations, if a service provider is interested in laying fiber, it could see significant hurdles and consultations with local government. The provider would also have to perform environmental protection and historic preservation studies [122], [123]. • Cost. ...
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... Their results demonstrate that consumers are better off with zero-rating in terms of estimated consumer surplus [12]. Moreover, in [1,13], the challenges of policy makers and regulators in developing countries to deal with zero-rating internet are addressed. Net neutrality concerns of zero-rating are addressed in [14,15] In terms of game theoretic modeling and pricing issues of zero-rating Internet, we used a variant of Stackelberg dynamic game in [16] to model the interaction between an MNO and its end-users toward providing their access to zerorating services (i.e., partnership of the MNO and zero-rating platforms). ...
Article
Full-text available
Zero-rating Internet is a term that is used for not counting data usage of end-users for accessing basic capabilities of some websites via mobile network operators. Recently, an open zero-rating platform called Free Basics is offered by Facebook which in addition to providing free basic services of Facebook to the end-users, it allows other websites to provide their contents as zero-rated through the platform for free. In this paper, we provide a game theoretic analysis to investigate the reasons behind the formation of fully or partially open zero-rating platforms such as Free Basics. For this purpose, a variant of a specific dynamic game called asymmetric volunteer’s timing dilemma is used to model zero-rating platforms formation with content providers as the players. The general solution of the game is determined as a form of sub-game perfect Nash equilibrium (SPNE). Moreover, specific forms of utility functions for content providers are introduced with consideration of network effects to draw SPNE of the game and demonstrate the behaviors of the involved parameters in the game results. The modeling and its solution helps us to explain current state of the zero-rating platforms and its stability. In particular, our result is in accord with the formation of Free Basics platform by Facebook.
... which could make first-time users mistake the service for the entire Internet [6,16], the service name was changed to Free Basics in September 2015 [4]. Even after this name change, protests continued about the privacy and security issues with the service, since all browsing done through the platform goes through a Facebook proxy and Facebook can decrypt the content of any app on its servers [4,45,6,48]. In 2016, India even went as far as banning differential pricing and effectively Free Basics [10,20]. ...
Conference Paper
Companies are offering zero-rated, or data-charge free Internet services to help bring unconnected users online where Internet access is less affordable. However, it is unclear whether these services achieve this goal or how they shape Internet use. To inform evidence-based policy around and the design of zero-rated services, we show in this paper how mobile users are making use of Facebook's controversial Free Basics platform. We present findings from interviews of 35 Free Basics users in South Africa: current low-income users and non-regular student users. Our findings suggest that Free Basics does shape Internet usage, for instance, users spend more time online because of 'free' apps. Second, Free Basics saves users money but adoption of the platform depends on access to other 'free' Internet options. Finally, most users are confused about how zero-rated services work and what 'free' means. Based on our findings, we make recommendations for future work.
... As internet access throughout the world increases, this situation may change. However, a large proportion of the world population is still unable to access the internet, especially those in developing nations [112], making printed maps and associated materials highly desirable. ...
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Chapter
Owing to its proven efficiency to move large data sets, the number of deployed Science DMZs has been rapidly increasing in the last few years. However, there are still many challenges and open research issues that must be addressed.
Article
Zero-rating is the practice of providers of radio-based Internet access for moving telecommunication devices of excluding traffic generated by specific online applications from usage counted towards capped allowances or strictly metered tariffs of their end customers. Worldwide and particularly in the European Union (EU), current regulatory frameworks for zero-rating arrangements (ZRA) imply that regulators have to examine on a case-by-case basis whether they prohibit a concrete ZRA or impose restrictions. Such conditions are set because regulators believe that a ZRA runs counter to the interests of end customers or application providers or impedes effective competition between application and Internet service providers. Thus, it is necessary to clarify which case features ought to be inspected in such zero-rating assessments and which feature levels speak against or in favor of regulatory measures linked to ZRA. The present article identifies nine design features of ZRA, three characteristics of customer groups targeted by such offers and three background characteristics of the markets for Internet access services and applications which are of special importance in decisions concerning the need to regulate (to abstain from regulating) zero-rating practices of mobile network operators. The analysis shows that in many instances interests of end customers, application providers as well as of politicians seeking to promote the competitive dynamics on mobile Internet access service and application markets are best served if regulatory authorities tolerate ZRA and control for potential harmful effects after their market launch. Moreover, the study reveals that empirical research on customer reactions to ZRA is urgently required.
Article
Unter Zero-Rating-Angeboten (ZRA) versteht man Tarifvarianten von Anbietern von Internetzugangsdiensten über Fest- oder Mobilfunknetze, bei denen der durch die Nutzung bestimmter (Online‑)Anwendungen erzeugte Internetverkehr nicht auf das Datenvolumen angerechnet wird, das Kunden über ihren monatlichen Grundpreis oder direkt mengenabhängige Preise bezahlen. Befürworter von ZRA stufen sie als verbraucher- und wettbewerbspolitisch unbedenklichen Ansatz zur Preisdifferenzierung ein, dessen Ausgestaltung Marktkräften überlassen werden sollte. Kritiker von ZRA sehen sie als subtile, aber schwerwiegende Verletzung von Prinzipien der Netzneutralität. Opponenten fordern deshalb ihr Verbot durch Gesetz oder durch für den Telekommunikationssektor zuständige nationale Regulierungsbehörden. Weltweit und insbesondere in der EU stellen sich die ordnungspolitischen Rahmenbedingungen für ZRA derzeit so dar, dass Regulierer von Fall zu Fall zu analysieren haben, ob sie ein konkretes ZRA mit Auflagen versehen, weil es den Interessen von Endnutzern oder Anwendungsanbietern zuwider läuft oder die Funktionsfähigkeit des Wettbewerbs zwischen Anwendungs- und Internetzugangsdiensteanbietern beeinträchtigt. Damit ist zu klären, welche ZRA-Fallmerkmale in solche Prüfungen einbezogen werden sollen und welche Merkmalsausprägungen gegen bzw. für Regulierereingriffe in ZRA sprechen. Der vorliegende Beitrag arbeitet neun ZRA-Gestaltungsmerkmale, drei Merkmale von mit ZRA adressierten Kundengruppen und drei strukturelle Merkmale von Märkten für Internetzugangsdienste und -anwendungen heraus, denen bei Entscheidungen bezüglich der (Nicht‑)Notwendigkeit staatlicher Regulierung von ZRA hohe Relevanz beizumessen ist. Die Untersuchung zeigt, dass in vielen Situationen den Interessen von Endkunden und Anwendungsanbietern sowie dem Ziel der Wettbewerbsstärkung eher Rechnung getragen wird, wenn Regulierungsbehörden ZRA tolerieren und sie nach ihrer Markteinführung im Hinblick auf unerwünschte Effekte überwachen. Außerdem verdeutlich sie, dass empirische Studien zu Kundenreaktionen auf ZRA dringend erforderlich sind.
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