Cell phone use in the favelas of Brazil

In the recent issue of the Vodafone Receiver Magazine there is an interesting article covering the differences of mobile phone usage between the Western World and low-income communities – here with the example of the Favelas in Brazil.

Adriana de Souza e Silva, a Brazilian academic with many affiliations presents some of the findings of her recent study.

The article is very interesting so I want to sum up some findings here.

  • Location based services are just now introduced in Brazil and are expected to become very successful
  • Brazil has one of the highest numbers of mobile users
  • Cell phones serve as device to ensure safety – for example to call if a place is safe before going there
  • Cell phones serve as a replacement for pay phones or landlines
  • Often cell phones are no personal devices but shared among more users
  • Pre-paid phones are highly popular, often they are even used with no credit (e.g. just let it ring)
  • Cell phones are mostly only used for basic functions (sms, calls) due to cost reasons
  • Mobile phones were the most stolen items in Brazil in 2007, using one by replacing the sim-card is easy
  • Most inhabitants bought their mobile phones in the black market in the favelas, as they can’t or don’t want to pay the higher original prices
  • Though big investment for high-end services like 3G is on the way in Brazil, they focus just on a small part of the community ( – the rich)

A conclusion from the author:

Although most early research into cell phone use focused on developed countries and on the issues of privacy, security, and teenage use, recent research emphasizes cell phone use and appropriation among low-income communities in developing countries. Interestingly, cities such as Rio de Janeiro include both of these realities, with two types of very different users impacting on other. With the inevitable introduction of new services which might lead to an even bigger gap in technology consumption and population connectivity we need to ask ourselves how to create opportunities to address these issues, and to develop a legitimate market in the country. [from here]

As I already wrote, the article is very interesting and I totally agree with Ms. de Souza e Silva – we first have to address the digital divide before we invest in high end technology.

Check out the article

Cell phone use in the favelas of Brazil
was published on 20.08.2008 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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One Response to “Cell phone use in the favelas of Brazil”

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