Social Impact and Diffusion of Telecenter Use: A Study from the Sustainable Access in Rural India Project

Rajendra Kumar, Michael L Best


In a study of social diffusion of telecenter use in rural south India, we find that these centers are being used only by a relatively small proportion of the village households despite their having been in operation for well over a year. Based on a survey of the telecenter users, we find that these users are, in general, young, male, school or college students, relatively more educated, belong to relatively higher income households, and come from socially and economically advanced communities. Thus the telecenters may sustain existing socioeconomic inequalities within these communities. However, we find some significant exceptions. We find that location of telecenters close to the residential localities where socially and economically backward communities live and presence of local champions within those communities are associated with attracting more users from those communities. We also find that providing localized content and services and making these services more affordable are other important factors in increasing usage and diffusion. We posit that incorporating these factors in the planning, spatial location, and operation of the telecenters can significantly improve their social diffusion and improve their long-term financial and social sustainability.

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The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441