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Refereed Papers

Track: Technology for Developing Regions

Paper Title:
Connecting the Bottom of the Pyramid: An Exploratory Case Study of India's Rural Communication Environment


This paper is based on our exploratory study of a South Indian village in Chamrajanagar district of Karnataka. The study was to understand the rural communication environment and villagers communication preferences. We examined people's lifestyle, working conditions and their communication eco-system. Our study revealed that villagers, unlike urban inhabitants, interacted with people outside the village only for specific, rather than casual purposes. Another interesting aspect of rural communication was the marginal use of the postal system and the ubiquitous use of pay phone, apart from word of mouth and face-to-face interactions. In fact, personal (face-to-face) interaction was usually preferred among villages in this region, over other kinds of communication, despite infrastructural constraints like poor transport services.

We also observed that communication frequency increased when status quo changed to one that required immediate attention. During the analysis we identified certain social, economic and cultural communication gaps (or problems). However, these problems were clear opportunities to connect the unconnected rural users, by deploying new communication systems and features. Here, we have highlighted some of our findings and possible design avenues based on these findings.

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