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New cellular networks in Malawi: Correlates of service rollout and network performance

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  • Dimitrios Batzilis
  • Taryn Dinkelman
  • Emily Oster
  • Rebecca Thornton
  • Deric Zanera

Abstract

Cellular technologies have become increasingly important in the developing world; infrastructure for mobile networks has expanded dramatically over the past two decades giving access to remote areas without previous phone service. Despite this expansion, relatively little is known about the correlates of the rollout of cellular phone networks or the performance of these networks. Since the rollout of cellular networks has been largely spearheaded by an active private sector in telecommunications, how demand-side and cost-side factors affect the timing of rollout and quality of network service is of particular interest. In this paper we use new data to estimate the correlates of cellular phone access and network performance across rural areas of Malawi. We compile a dataset which combines administrative data of the entire cellular network of Malawi with geographic and Census data to describe the rollout and the performance of the cellular network measured by the dropped call rate. We find that both demand-side and cost-side factors are important in determining the timing of network access, while demand-side factors appear most relevant for the dropped call rate, one metric of network quality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16616.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Publication status: published as Dmitris Batzilis, Taryn Dinkelman, Emily Oster, Rebecca Thornton, Deric Zanera. "New Cellular Networks in Malawi: Correlates of Service Rollout and Effects on Employment," in David N. Weil, Sebastian Edwards, and Simon Johnson, editors, "African Successes #1" (2014)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16616

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  1. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Lupin Rahman & Vijayendra Rao, 2004. "The Politics of Public Good Provision: Evidence from Indian Local Governments," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 416-426, 04/05.
  2. Mwangi S. Kimenyi, 2006. "Ethnicity, Governance and the Provision of Public Goods," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(1), pages 62-99, April.
  3. Abhijit Banerjee & Rohini Somanathan, 2004. "The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 04-17, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  4. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2008. "Preschool Television Viewing and Adolescent Test Scores: Historical Evidence from the Coleman Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 279-323, 02.
  5. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2007. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," NBER Working Papers 13305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Taryn Dinkelman, 2011. "The Effects of Rural Electrification on Employment: New Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3078-3108, December.
  7. Buys, Piet & Dasgupta, Susmita & Thomas, Timothy S. & Wheeler, David, 2009. "Determinants of a Digital Divide in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Spatial Econometric Analysis of Cell Phone Coverage," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1494-1505, September.
  8. William Jack & Tavneet Suri, 2011. "Mobile Money: The Economics of M-PESA," NBER Working Papers 16721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Godlonton, Susan & Thornton, Rebecca, 2012. "Peer effects in learning HIV results," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 118-129.
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Cited by:
  1. Bernard, Tanguy & Torero, Maximo, 2011. "Randomizing the "Last Mile": A methodological note on using a voucher-based approach to assess the impact of infrastructure projects," IFPRI discussion papers 1078, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Raul KATZ & Pantelis KOUTROUMPIS, 2012. "The Economic Impact of Telecommunications in Senegal," Communications & Strategies, IDATE, Com&Strat dept., vol. 2(86), pages 21-42, 2nd quart.
  3. Aker, Jenny C. & Clemens, Michael A. & Ksoll, Christopher, 2011. "Mobiles and mobility: The Effect of Mobile Phones on Migration in Niger," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 2, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.

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