The paper addresses the blurred understandings of what developing country mobile internet users feel they are paying for. The move towards increasing online news and music consumption around the world has resulted in low growth in paid content consumption and a digital advertising market that is not highly favourable for news or entertainment providers. From a major study conducted on mobile phone based internet behaviours in ghana, kenya and uganda in 2015, we find consumption in these countries reflects the trends observed in more mature markets where the decline in news purchase revenues and advertising rates raises fundamental questions about the business models of independent media. While users enjoy the personalized content benefits of the mobile web, they feel that paying for data (i.e. Mobile connection and data bytes) is sufficient and conflate it with paying for content (i.e. Content in an online newspaper or online music). We argue that deconstructing misunderstandings of paying for mobile internet access and paying for content (including ascertaining whether they are genuine misunderstandings) is important for understanding how to achieve a free and fair internet, where content is accessible but generates enough profit to be sustainable.
Bailur, Savita; Schoemaker, Emrys; and Donner, Jonathan, "Paying for access or content? Blurred understandings of mobile internet data in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda" (2016). GlobDev 2016. 16.